If your doctor has diagnosed osteoporosis, your doctor will probably recommend:
- Important lifestyle changes
- Medication to stop further bone loss and prevent fractures
- Falls prevention measures (as falls can lead to breaks)
- Increasing your calcium intake through your daily diet or supplements
- Increasing the amount of exercise each week
- Quit smoking
- Decreasing your alcohol intake
- Increasing your exposure to limited sunlight to correct any vitamin D deficiencies, or with supplementation
Your doctor might also change or reduce some of your medications, as they may be a cause of osteoporosis. Corticosteroid medications eg. prednisolone, which is used to treat lots of other conditions such as asthma and arthritis, can cause osteoporosis and your may reduce the dose.
Osteoporosis medications work by making the bone cells that break down bone ineffective, while leaving the cells that form bone alone. This reduces the amount of bone lost, so that a net gain in bone density occurs over time.
How Long Should I Take Medication For?
Your bone density improves very slowly, especially around the hip, so the effects of medication may take many months to occur.
The reduced risk of fractures seen with bisphosphonates and SERMs can be seen as early as 6 months to one year after starting treatment. You will probably have to take medication long-term. Your doctor may need to monitor the effect of treatment by repeating DXA scans and other tests at various stages.
To get full benefit from your prescription medications, it is important to take them exactly as directed and for as long as your doctor prescribes. Unfortunately, many people stop treatment within 2 years, which is common with long-term medications. This means you do not get the full benefit of taking the drugs.