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).
- 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 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.
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.