The Irish Osteoporosis Society only recommends taking medications and treatments that have had extensive clinical research done on them, to prove their efficacy. Osteoporosis treatments either help to prevent bone loss or increase bone formation, ultimately reducing your risk of breaking bones.
The best choice for you depends on your DXA scan results, the causes of your bone loss, your risk of a break, your age, gender, and medical history. Possible treatments include the following:
Bisphosphonates: These non-hormonal medications work by reducing the rate a person is losing bone which decrease the person’s risk of breaking bones. Brand names include Boniva®, Fosamax® and Fosavance®.
Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) or contraceptive pill: Oestrogen and progesterone can be prescribed for females with low oestrogen either as HRT for postmenopausal women, if they do not have contraindications or the contraceptive pill for premenopausal women. HRT prevents bone loss.
Selective oestrogen receptor modulators (SERMs): Also used as a breast cancer treatment, these drugs work similarly to oestrogen. They are often prescribed for women who experience side effects from HRT. The most well-known brand is Evista®.
Monoclonal antibodies: This drug (brand name Prolia®) works by reducing bone loss, so more bone is maintained then lost and it is a twice-yearly injection.
Parathyroid hormone (PTH): Forsteo is the most well-known brand name. This is a daily injection for severe osteoporosis. PTH is a bone-forming agent that stimulates new bone growth.
Testosterone: One of the main causes of bone loss in men is low testosterone levels, which is why it is essential testosterone levels are checked, as testosterone therapy may be necessary in some males.
Vertebroplasty: This is a non-surgical procedure involving inserting a needle containing a special ‘bone cement’ into a broken vertebra. This procedure is not suitable for everyone and should only be done for pain relief, not to restore height.
Kyphoplasty: During surgery, a balloon filled with ‘bone cement’ is placed within the broken vertebra. This procedure is not suitable for everyone and should only be done for pain relief, not to restore height.
Like all medications, there are possible risks of side effects, however, for people with osteoporosis, the high risk of breaking bones and the secondary effects of fractures, far outweighs the risk of any possible side effect.