Skip to content

Osteoporosis Health Center

Font Size

Osteoporosis - Medications

Medicines are used to both prevent and treat osteoporosis. Some medicines slow the rate of bone loss or increase bone thickness. Even small amounts of new bone growth can reduce your risk of broken bones.

Medicine for treatment and prevention

  • Bisphosphonates. These include alendronate (Fosamax), ibandronate (Boniva), risedronate (Actonel), and zoledronic acid (Reclast).
    dplink.gif Osteoporosis: Should I Take Bisphosphonate Medicines?
  • Calcitonin (Calcimar or Miacalcin). This is a naturally occurring hormone that helps regulate calcium levels in your body and is part of the bone-building process. Calcitonin also relieves pain caused by spinal compression fractures.
  • Denosumab (Prolia). It's used to treat people who are at high risk for bone fractures related to decreased bone density.
  • Teriparatide (Forteo). It's used for the treatment of men and postmenopausal women who have severe osteoporosis and who are at high risk for bone fracture.
  • Raloxifene (Evista). This medicine is a selective estrogen receptor modulator (SERM).

Hormone therapy

Hormone therapy is typically not recommended for most women who have osteoporosis. But if you are at high risk and cannot take other medicines, your doctor may recommend it under certain circumstances. If you continue to have bone loss while taking a bisphosphonate, such as alendronate (Fosamax) or risedronate (Actonel), you may need to take both bisphosphonate medicine and hormone therapy.

Hormone therapy for osteoporosis in women includes:

  • Estrogen. Estrogen without progestin (estrogen therapy, or ET) may be used to treat osteoporosis in women who have gone through menopause and do not have a uterus. Because taking estrogen alone increases the risk for cancer of the lining of the uterus (endometrial cancer), ET is only used if a woman has had her uterus removed (hysterectomy).
  • Estrogen and progestin. In rare cases, the combination of estrogen and progestin (hormone therapy, or HT) is recommended for women who have osteoporosis.

Medicine for pain from fractures

Compression fractures and other broken bones resulting from osteoporosis can cause significant pain that lasts for several months. Medicines to relieve this pain include:

  • Nonprescription acetaminophen, such as Tylenol.
  • Nonprescription nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen and naproxen. If you take NSAIDs regularly, your doctor may recommend that you also take a medicine such as a proton pump inhibitor (PPI) to protect your digestive system. But there is also a chance that PPIs can help cause osteoporosis. Talk to your doctor about taking NSAIDs and PPIs for long periods of time.
  • A narcotic pain reliever, such as codeine or morphine.
  • Calcitonin, such as Calcimar or Miacalcin.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: July 30, 2013
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
1
Next Article:

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
Article
Woman holding plate of brocolli
Article
 
Dairy products
Tool
Superfood for Bones
Slideshow
 
Screening Tests for Women
Slideshow
exercise endometrial cancer
Article
 
hand holding medicine
Article
Working Out With Osteoporosis
Video