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Osteoporosis Health Center

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Osteoporosis - Treatment Overview

Treatment for osteoporosis is important to prevent fractures and help you get around and function well. It usually includes lifestyle changes and medicine. It is never too late to build and then keep healthy habits that can slow bone thinning.

Lifestyle changes

Take calcium and vitamin D

Your doctor likely will recommend that you eat foods rich in calcium and vitamin D. These nutrients keep bones healthy and strong.

Your bones need vitamin D to absorb calcium. Getting more vitamin D may help prevent falls in older people who are low in vitamin D.4 And some studies show that taking vitamin D may reduce the chances of breaking a bone.5 Talk to your doctor about measuring your vitamin D to be sure you are getting enough.

Get weight-bearing exercise

Get regular weight-bearing exercise, such as walking, jogging, stair climbing, dancing, lifting weights, aerobics, and resistance exercises. These activities keep bones healthy by working the muscles and bones against gravity. To be most effective, weight-bearing exercises should be done for 30 minutes most days of the week. Resistance exercises should be done 2 or 3 days a week.

Limit alcohol, and don't smoke

Along with exercise and diet, your doctor will recommend that you not smoke. And it's best to limit alcohol to no more than 2 drinks a day for men and no more than 1 drink a day for women. For help with quitting smoking, see the topic Quitting Smoking.

Medicines

In some cases, your doctor will prescribe medicines such as bisphosphonates or hormones to protect against bone loss.

Follow-up visits

After you have been diagnosed with bone loss, you will need to have regular follow-up tests to monitor the disease.

Treatment for compression fractures

Compression fractures from osteoporosis can cause significant back pain that lasts for several months. Treatments to relieve your pain include over-the-counter medicines such as acetaminophen and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs as well as stronger prescription medicine.

Your doctor may also suggest a back brace or corset to support your spine.

If you have a fractured bone related to osteoporosis, treatment to slow your bone thinning becomes very important. If you have had a spinal fracture, you are at risk of having another.

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: November 06, 2012
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.
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