Skip to content

Osteoporosis Health Center

Font Size

Osteoporosis Myth: Once You Get Osteoporosis, No Treatment Helps

Reality: If diagnosed, osteoporosis can be treated with a variety of new osteoporosis medications that help to prevent bone loss and rebuild bone. These osteoporosis treatments can substantially reduce your risk of developing dangerous and potentially deadly bone fractures.

Antiresorptive medications affect the body's bone remodeling cycle by slowing or stopping the part of the process that involves breakdown of bone. This can both prevent the onset of osteoporosis and help treat the disease once it develops. These drugs include bisphosphonates, selective estrogen receptor modulators (SERMs), and estrogen therapy.

Recommended Related to Osteoporosis

Causes of Spinal Compression Fractures

If you're nearing age 60 and have back pain, don't assume it's a normal part of getting older. You could be affected by a spinal compression fracture. Back aches and pains can be a sign that small fractures are occurring in your vertebrae - the bones that form your spine. Soft, weakened bones are at the heart of this problem. Compression fractures are often caused by bone-thinning osteoporosis, especially if you are a postmenopausal woman over age 50. When bones are brittle, everyday activities...

Read the Causes of Spinal Compression Fractures article > >

  • Bisphosphonates include Actonel, Binosto, Boniva, Fosamax, and Zometa. Each of the bisphosphonates has been shown in clinical studies to reduce the risk of fracture from osteoporosis, although they are not all the same. Fosamax, for example, has been shown to reduce spine, hip, and wrist fractures, while Boniva has been shown to reduce spine fractures. Each drug has its advantages and disadvantages. Talk with your doctor about which might be best for you.
  • In addition, the FDA has approved another bisphosphonate, a drug known as Reclast, for the treatment of osteoporosis. Reclast is a once-yearly treatment, administered as a 15-minute IV injection.
  • These drugs are considered generally safe. However, a rare condition called osteonecrosis of the jaw has been linked to some bisphosphonates. This condition involves a wound that exposes bone and is difficult to heal, and can lead to infection. Most cases have occurred in people with cancer taking certain biphosphanates, and not in those with osteoporosis. Still, it is important to be aware of this condition and discuss it with both your doctor and dentist. A treatment plan and length of therapy needs to be discussed with you doctor as these guidelines are changing.
  • SERMs are designed to provide the beneficial effects of estrogen therapy, without the disadvantages that have been seen in some studies, such as increased risk of heart attack, breast cancer, and stroke. Only one SERM, Evista, has been approved for treating osteoporosis as of 2007, but others are currently in development. Evista has been shown to reduce the risk of spine fractures, but it's not yet known if it reduces fractures in other areas, such as the hip.
  • Estrogen therapy (alone or in combination with progestin or bazedoxifene) has been shown to decrease bone loss and reduce hip and spine fractures. It replaces the estrogen levels that drop drastically during menopause. Unfortunately, it has also been linked to an increased risk for heart attack, breast cancer, and stroke, so the FDA recommends that you consider other osteoporosis medications first.

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.
Lactose Intolerance
Woman holding plate of brocolli
Dairy products
Superfood for Bones
Screening Tests for Women
exercise endometrial cancer
hand holding medicine
Working Out With Osteoporosis