Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Osteoporosis Health Center

Font Size

Can You Reverse Osteoporosis?

5 questions and answers about osteoporosis treatment.

3. What Will Osteoporosis Drugs Do for Me? continued...

There are several types of osteoporosis drugs, which are available by prescription only:

Some types of osteoporosis drugs slow bone breakdown, which is part of bone's natural and ongoing remodeling process. Others spur new bone growth.

How good is the resulting bone? "The quality of the new bone is probably very good," Cosman says. "But the quality of your overall bone may not be back to normal."

4. What About Side Effects?

All classes of osteoporosis drugs have possible side effects.

For instance, there have been rare reports of "jaw death" (osteonecrosis of the jaw) in patients taking bisphosphonates, the most widely used type of osteoporosis drug. There have also been rare reports of thigh bone (femur) fractures in people taking bisphosphonates for a long time, but it's not clear if the drugs caused that. And the newest osteoporosis drug, Prolia, may cause low blood calcium levels and could increase infection risk, because it targets a chemical in the immune system.

As with any drug, you and your doctor need to weigh the risks and benefits.

5. What Lifestyle Measures Help?

If you have osteoporosis, doctors often recommend that you do the following, besides taking osteoporosis drugs:

  • Get enough vitamin D and calcium. Both are needed for bone health, and many people don't get enough of either. The Institute of Medicine is reviewing its vitamin D and calcium guidelines. Meanwhile, ask your doctor what you need in terms of supplements and exposure to sunlight, which helps your body make vitamin D.
  • Physical activity. Weight-bearing exercise -- such as walking or weight training -- is key for bone health. Check with your doctor about what's appropriate for you.
  • Don't smoke. Smoking can weaken your bones.
1 | 2
Reviewed on July 15, 2010

Today on WebMD

Women working out and walking with weights
Reduce bone loss and build stronger muscles.
Chinese cabbage
Calcium-rich foods to add to your diet.
woman stretching
Get the facts on osteoporosis.
Porous bone
Causes, symptoms, risk factors, and treatment.
senior woman
Woman holding plate of brocolli
wrist xray
Superfood for Bones
mature woman
sunlight in hands
man and woman in front of xray
woman with dumbbells