Because lost bone cannot be replaced, treatment for osteoporosis focuses on the prevention of further bone loss. Treatment is often a team effort involving a physician or internist, an orthopaedist, a gynecologist, and an endocrinologist.
Although exercise and nutrition therapy are often key components of a treatment plan for osteoporosis, there are other treatments as well.
Estrogen replacement therapy (ERT) is often recommended for women at high risk for osteoporosis to prevent bone loss and reduce fracture risk. A measurement of bone density when menopause begins may help you decide whether ERT is right for you. Hormones also prevent heart disease, improve cognitive functioning, and improve urinary function. ERT is not without some risk, including enhanced risk of breast cancer; the risks and benefits of ERT should be discussed with your doctor.
New anti-estrogens known as SERMs (selective estrogen receptor modulators) can increase bone mass, decrease the risk of spine fractures, and lower the risk of breast cancer.
Calcitonin is another medication used to decrease bone loss. A nasal spray form of this medication increases bone mass, limits spine fractures, and may offer some pain relief.
Bisphosphonates, including alendronate, markedly increase bone mass and prevent both spine and hip fractures.
ERT, SERMs, calcitonin, and bisphosphonates all offer patient with osteoporosis an opportunity to not only increase bone mass, but also to significantly reduce fracture risk. Prevention is preferable to waiting until treatment is necessary.
Your orthopaedist is a medical doctor with extensive training in the diagnosis and nonsurgical and surgical treatment of the musculoskeletal system, including bones, joints, ligaments, tendons, muscles and nerves. This has been prepared by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and is intended to contain current information on the subject from recognized authorities. However, it does not represent official policy of the Academy and its text should not be construed as excluding other acceptable viewpoints.