print

Osteoporosis Options: September 22, 2011

Charlene Greenfield is the picture of healthy living.

“I still exercise three days a week, I do weights and resistive yoga.”

Diagnosed with osteoporosis she provides a snapshot of treatment options.

“I did the calcium and the vitamin D as well as prescription medications from my primary care physician,” says Charlene.

Osteoporosis is a bone-diminishing disease, more common in aging women. It can lead to brittle bones, breaks and fractures.

“I think all women at the age of 50 should have a baseline bone density test done,” says Dr. David Heligman, an orthopedic surgeon with Lee Memorial Health System’s medical staff.

Based on the results, your doctor may prescribe medication to increase bone density. Common ones are Fosamax, Actonel and Boniva.

“They all work very well in helping to reduce the number of fractures in women going forward but they also have side effects,” says Dr. Heligman.

“I don’t tolerate them very well, I got the typical esophageal reflux with it, upset stomach and did not do well,” says Charlene.

Upset stomach is the most common complaint with these medications. Another option circumvents that, by circumventing the stomach. It’s a once-a-year treatment.

“The nice thing about it is it there are some medicines that you can take once a year but it has to be administered through an intravenous line and it takes a long time to do that,” says Dr. Heligman.

Another option is a new drug, administered as a twice-a-year shot.

“The new medication that came out is called Prolia which is a biological drug meaning its really like an antibody that affects those cells that remove calcium from the bones,” says Dr. Heligman.

Having sampled several options, Charlene hopes the shot in the arm will provide a solid solution.

“They’ve had some patients with slight improvement and I’m hoping I either maintain or improve.”