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What Are Your Options If You Can't Take Biophosphonates For Your Osteoporosis?

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Biophosphonates such as Alendronate and Ibandronate are considered the premier treatment for osteoporosis. These medications work by slowing down the action of cells that break down bone tissue, which helps keep your bones stronger for longer.

While most patients tolerate biophosphonates well, they are not for everyone. In some patients, they cause serious nausea, ulcers, and necrosis of the jaw. Patients with poor kidney function and those with low blood calcium levels also can't take these medications safely. So where does that leave you if you fall into one of these categories? How can you treat your osteoporosis without biophosphonates? Here's a look at some of the other medications your doctor may recommend.

Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulators

Estrogen binds to certain receptors, preventing your body from breaking down bone tissue. As you age and your body begins producing less estrogen, these receptors sit empty—and this triggers a loss of bone. Medications called selective estrogen receptor modulators are designed to mimic estrogen and bind to these receptors. This essentially tricks your body into thinking there is estrogen present, which stops the breakdown of bone. This type of medication works well for women in the early stages of osteoporosis. Its downfall is that it increases the risk of blood clots.

Note that selective estrogen modulators do not mimic the other effects of estrogen in the body. They only have an effect on bone breakdown.

Synthetic Parathyroid Hormone 

Another hormone that helps regulate bone loss and formation in your body is parathyroid hormone. This hormone, when released, triggers the body to build more bone. Taking synthetic parathyroid hormone, then, triggers your osteoblasts—the bone cells that build bone tissue—to be more active. This leads to denser bones that are less prone to fracture.

This medication is very effective, even for women with severe osteoporosis. However, it must be administered by injection—there is no oral form. In some women, it can lead to a rapid heartbeat or muscle weakness.

Estrogen Replacement Therapy

If you are also suffering from other menopause-related symptoms like hot flashes and night sweats, your doctor may recommend that you undergo estrogen replacement therapy. Taking synthetic estrogen replaces the estrogen your body is no longer making. This will trigger your estrogen receptors, reducing the breakdown of bone, while also fighting your other symptoms. Estrogen replacement therapy is sometimes paired with parathyroid hormone supplements for even greater results. Its downside is that it may increase your risk of developing breast cancer and heart disease. 

For more information on treating your osteoporosis, contact a medical center like the Sarasota Arthritis Center.