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Osteoporosis: An Overview

Osteoporosis Treatment continued...

Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) -- either estrogen alone or a combination of estrogen and progestin -- can prevent and treat osteoporosis. The drug Duavee (estrogen and bazedoxifene) is a type of HRT approved to treat menopause-related hot flashes. Duavee may also prevent osteoporosis in high-risk women who have already tried non-estrogen treatment.

However, research has shown that hormone replacement therapy increases the risk of breast cancer , heart disease, and stroke in some women. So while HRT is known to help preserve bone and prevent fractures, it isn't generally recommended at this point for initial treatment of osteoporosis in most women because the health risks are thought to outweigh the benefits.

In women who have been on menopausal hormone therapy in the past and then stopped taking it, the bones begin to thin again -- at the same pace as during menopause.

What to Expect After a Fracture

Fractures from osteoporosis often occur at the hip, wrist, and/or spine. Hip fractures often require surgery. Wrist fractures may need casting and/or surgery.

Spine fractures are the most common. About 700,000 spinal fractures occur a year. Weak bones can lead to a compression fracture in the vertebrae, the bones that form your spine. Over time, these fractures can change the strength and shape of your spine. You may lose height. Spine fractures sometimes can lead to chronic back pain. Soft, weak bones are the root of this problem.

Pain Relief Options for Fractures

Pain medicine and other therapies can help. Options include:

  • If you need a stronger painkiller, your doctor can prescribe opioid pain medicines, such as codeine or morphine. However, doctors may discourage you from staying on these potent medicines.
  • Applying cold compresses or heat to the site can help the pain. You can pick, depending on which temperature feels best.
  • Physical therapy can help you learn how to move properly, reducing risk for more fractures.

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