Which Osteoporosis Medication Has the Least Side Effects?


Osteoporosis is a disease in which the bones lose mass and tissue, leaving them weak and increasing the risk of fracture. If you live with the condition, then you know how much it can affect your quality of life. Fortunately, there are medications that can help slow down the progression of osteoporosis, but you need to know the facts before you decide which medication to take to treat the disease. Here are some facts about the different types of osteoporosis medications you can take.


The most commonly prescribed medications for osteoporosis are bisphosphonates, which are designed to stop bone loss by inhibiting the cells that break down the bone. The first of these to be developed and approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) was Alendronate, such as Fosamax and Fosamax Plus D. Since the success of these drugs, others have been introduced, including Ibandronate, such as Boniva; Risedronate, such as Actonel; and zoledronic acid, such as Reclast and Zometa.

Unfortunately, these drugs have been proven to only have moderate success in preventing bone fracture, despite the fact that they prevent bone loss. In addition, their potential side effects include damage to the esophagus and stomach, heart burn, and abdominal pain and an upset stomach. Those who take alendronate are at risk of experiencing intense bone and joint pain, a loss of bone in the jaw, muscle pain, and an abnormal heart rhythm, although these side effects are rare. Actonel has been shown to produce less severe gastrointestinal side effects.


Another medication commonly used to treat osteoporosis is the Raloxifene drug Evista. Evista minimizes bone loss by producing an estrogen-like effect in the body. One positive side effect associated with Evista is that it has been shown to lower the risk of developing breast cancer. However, for women who have a history of blood clots or stroke, Evista is avoided because it can increase the risk of blood clots and stroke just as estrogen does.


The osteoporosis medication teriparatide in the form of Forteo is a type of parathyroid hormone that is used in only the most extreme cases of osteoporosis that do not respond to the other treatments discussed above. With daily injections and side effects that include leg cramps, dizziness, muscle weakness, and constipation, this medication is not favored, which is why it is used as a last resort.

Be Proactive

Team up with your doctor and discuss your options. Base your decision on your level of risk for developing osteoporosis, as well as your risk of blood clots and stroke. Your family history, age, and race will all be factored in and your doctor might perform a DXA scan to measure your bone density. If your bone density is low and your risk for developing severe osteoporosis is high, then taking an osteoporosis medication may be the right thing to do.

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Whether or not you are taking medication for your osteoporosis, you need to take care of yourself. Eat a proper diet high in calcium and vitamin D that supports both-growth. Avoid smoking and minimize the amount of alcohol you consume.

In addition, get plenty of exercise. The best types of exercise are those that put pressure on the bones, stimulating bone growth. Walking and any other activity that is weight-bearing, such as dancing, are ideal. Strength training and activities that improve balance are also important.

You should also take action to prevent falls. This means creating a home environment devoid of anything that could cause you to trip, such as cords and loose rugs. Avoid the consumption of alcohol, particularly before bedtime and make sure your eyes have been checked and you can see properly.

Remember to work closely with your doctor. If you have the beginnings of bone loss, you can very likely increase your bone density without the use of medication. However, if you have osteoporosis and/or have a history of fractures, then taking one of the above medications may be right for you. Just be sure to weigh the risks and benefits before you make a decision.

About Cary Byrd

eDrugSearch founder, Cary Byrd, has been called an “e-health innovator” by MarketIntellNow, interviewed by top pharmaceutical industry journalists, invited to Matthew Holt’s Health 2.0 Conference and a Consumer Report's health summit, and highlighted on numerous health blogs.

Which Osteoporosis Medication Has the Least Side Effects?

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