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How do medications treat osteoporosis?

Many medications treat osteoporosis with different mechanisms and side effects. The following are common medications and their side effects:

Bisphosphonates:

  • Function: prevents the breakdown of bones, may raise the bone density of your hip and spine
  • Side effects: nausea, pain in the abdomen, a hard time swallowing, problems with the esophagus, jaw problems, and and thigh bone fractures

Calcitonin:

  • Function: decreases bone loss, decreases pain
  • Side effects: may irritate nasal passages because it is often administered as a nasal spray

Raloxifene:

  • Function: increases bone density in the spine (just like estrogen)
  • Side effects: hot flashes, blood clots

Teriparatide:

  • Function: stimulates new bone growth
  • Side effects: leg cramps, dizziness and small increase in blood and urine calcium

Hormone therapy:

  • Function: maintain bone density
  • Side effects: (severe: hormone therapy is not usually recommended to treat osteoporosis) blood clots, heart problems, cancer

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.