There is no cure for osteoporosis. Therefore, osteoporosis treatments involve working with your physician to develop a plan that protects your bones. This often includes prescription medications and lifestyle changes including exercise to help slow the progression of bone loss and maintain bone density.

Osteoporosis Drugs

An effective weapon for controlling osteoporosis is prescription medication. Osteoporosis drugs help slow down bone loss and lower the risk of fractures.

  • Bisphosphonates: help preserve bone mass, increase bone density in the hip and spine, and reduce the risk of fractures
  • Calcitonin: a hormone made by the thyroid gland. It works by preventing bone break down and may help slow down bone loss in the spine
  • Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulators (SERMs): mimic the bone-preserving effect of estrogen on the bone tissue and help to stop the breakdown of bone and increase bone density
  • Parathyroid Hormone: helps stimulate new bone growth, rather than simply slow down bone breakdown

Learn more about osteoporosis drugs.

Hormone Therapy

Because postmenopausal women are at a high risk of osteoporosis due to the drop in protective estrogen levels, hormone therapy (also called "hormone-replacement therapy") is considered a form a preventive treatment. However, it's not typically used as a first line of defense because the treatment may increase the risk of stroke, heart attack, breast cancer, and blot clots. Talk to your healthcare provider about hormone therapy and whether it is appropriate for you based on your health history.

Calcium and Vitamin D

Making sure you're getting in enough bone-building calcium and vitamin D can help reduce bones loss and maintain bone density. The chart below shows the amount of daily calcium and vitamin D intake recommended by the National Institutes of Health.

Age

Calcium

Vitamin D

0 to 6 months

210 mg

200 IU

7 to 12 months

270 mg

200 IU

1 to 3 years

500 mg

200 IU

4 to 8 years

800 mg

200 IU

9 to 18 years

1,300 mg

200 IU

19 to 50 years

1,000 mg

200 IU

51 to 70 years

1,200 mg

400 IU

Over 70 years

1,200 mg

600 IU

Physical Activity

Bones are strengthened when met with resistance, which can be achieved through physical activity. Strength training—free weights, weight machines, or resistance bands—can bolster the bones in your arms and upper spine. Weight-bearing aerobics (walking or running) and low-impact aerobics (elliptical training or biking) can strengthen the bones in your legs, hips, and lower spine. Whatever the form, physical activity helps maximize peak bone mass in young women, slow age-related bone loss, and, in some cases, improve bone density. Exercise can also help improve your posture and balance, lowering the risk for falls. Fewers falls for patients with osteoporosis means fewer fractures.