Treatment: Know Your Options

Doctors treat osteoporosis by prescribing calcium and vitamin D, by recommending weight-bearing exercises, and by modifying other risk factors. See some of the other methods used to treat osteoporosis ›

Taking a Break from Osteoporosis Medicines

Bisphosphonates are popular bone-building medicines that prevent and treat osteoporosis. Because these medicines build up in the bone, their benefits can last for several years. That's why you may opt to stop taking them for a few years. Doctors call this a "drug holiday."

Or, like some women, you may want to take a break from bisphosphonates because of side effects such as bone, muscle, and joint pain. This pain usually goes away after the medicine is stopped. Over the long term, current research suggests that bisphosphonates have more benefits than risks.

Have you been taking a bisphosphonate for five years? According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, you may consider stopping the medicine if you aren't at high risk of breaking a bone. This "holiday" can last a year or two, or even longer, depending on your bone health. But be warned: Going off bisphosphonates could be dangerous if you're at high risk for fractures.

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  1. What is osteoporosis? What causes it?

  2. Can osteoporosis affect both men and women?

  3. What are common symptoms of osteoporosis?

  4. What are the effects of osteoporosis on my overall health?

  5. What medications treat osteoporosis? How do they work?

  6. What are the risks and side effects of these medications?

  7. What are other treatments for osteoporosis?

  8. How much calcium and vitamin D do I need every day to help strengthen my bones? What are good sources of these nutrients?

  9. What other steps can I take to prevent osteoporosis from getting worse?

  10. What types of physical activity are safe for me to do if I have osteoporosis?

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Did You Know?

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Women ages 19 to 50 need at least 1,000 milligrams of calcium every day. Younger women and women older than 50 need even more.