As the incidence and knowledge of osteoporosis has grown over the last decade, so has the interest and investment in developing drugs that treat the disease.
However, while there are several medications that have been approved by the FDA to treat osteoporosis in women, only four have been specifically approved for men:
- Alendronate (brand name Fosamax)
- Risedronate (brand name Actonel)
- Zoledronic acid (brand name Reclast IV)
- Teriparatide (brand name Forteo SQ) - Approved for low testosterone osteoporosis in men
Both Alendronate and Risedronate are in a category of drugs called bisphosphonates and are approved for use for those who have steroid-related osteoporosis.
This form of osteoporosis is usually caused by long-term use of steroid medications such as prednisone or cortisone, which are frequently prescribed to treat asthma and rheumatoid arthritis. Bone loss from these medications is usually most evident in the ribs and vertebrae, making the spine of people undergoing glucocorticoid treatment particularly susceptible.
To counteract the effects of steroids, patients are advised to:
- Obtain a bone mineral test so that any degradation can be tracked and addressed
- Work with their doctor to ensure that they are taking the minimum, productive amount of steroids, as opposed to the maximum
- Make extra effort to get adequate calcium and vitamin D, through food and/or dietary supplements
- Work with their doctor to design an exercise program for osteoporosis that is safe and effective in order to strengthen the bones and surrounding muscles as much as possible.
Osteoporosis is a Serious Medical Problem
It is the most common bone disease in humans and, while traditionally thought of as a problem primarily of post-menopausal women, it is also, in truth, a significant problem for men.
There are many treatments for osteoporosis, and for spine fractures that occur as a result of osteoporosis.
The best treatment, however, is prevention. Lifestyle changes made as early as possible, including quitting smoking, moderating alcohol use, participating frequently in weight-bearing exercise, and eating foods rich in calcium and vitamin D can go a long way to prevent osteoporosis later in life.