If daily or weekly pills to treat osteoporosis aren’t a good fit for you, you may be able to receive quarterly or yearly infusions. Side effects are usually mild and typically only occur after the first infusion.
Your body is constantly breaking down and building bone tissue. Osteoporosis is the medical term for low bone density. It develops when your body breaks down bone faster than it can build new tissue.
Experts estimate that osteoporosis affects more than
The first-line treatment for osteoporosis is bisphosphonates. This group of drugs prevents bone loss by inhibiting your body’s resorption of bone tissue. Doctors have used them to treat osteoporosis since the
You may take osteoporosis medications through:
- oral tablets
- nasal sprays
An infusion is when a healthcare professional administers the drugs slowly through a needle or an IV. Your doctor may recommend infusions if you
Read on to learn everything you need to know about infusions to treat and prevent osteoporosis.
We use “women” and “men” in this article to reflect the terms that have been historically used to gender people. But your gender identity may not align with how your body responds to this disease. Your doctor can better help you understand how your specific circumstances relate to these treatments.
Zoledronic acid, aka zoledronate, is also available under the brand name Reclast. It’s approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to:
- treat osteoporosis in men
- treat and prevent osteoporosis in postmenopausal women
- treat and prevent osteoporosis in people taking glucocorticoids
A healthcare professional administers zoledronic acid to you by infusion once per year to treat osteoporosis. The infusion contains 5 milligrams (mg) of the drug and lasts for at least 15 minutes.
You can also receive zoledronic acid infusions once every 2 years to prevent osteoporosis.
A healthcare professional will generally administer a 3 mg dose of ibandronate every 3 months. Each infusion takes about 15 to 30 seconds.
Ibandronate is also available as a pill you take once a month.
But doctors do prescribe it to treat hypercalcemia from cancer, Paget’s disease, or cancer that has spread to your bones. A healthcare professional will generally administer pamidronate in a dose of
Doctors have previously used pamidronate infusions to treat childhood osteoporosis. More research is needed to understand its long-term effectiveness and safety.
Infusion vs. injection
An injection uses a needle to deliver medication under the skin, into a muscle, or into a vein. It’s usually one short “shot.” There are several injections available to treat osteoporosis.
An infusion is a longer, continuous administration of medication into a vein. Depending on which medication you take, infusions for osteoporosis can take 15 seconds to several hours.
You may also experience:
They usually only last a couple of days and resolve themselves. But you can take acetaminophen (Tylenol) or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to help with these side effects.
Other rare complications may include:
Oral bisphosphonates can cause gastrointestinal side effects, such as heartburn and upset stomach. A
According to a
Are infusions as effective as other treatments for osteoporosis?
Some of the most common osteoporosis medications are pills you take by mouth. They include:
- alendronate (Fosamax), a daily or weekly pill
- risedronate (Actonel), available as a daily, weekly, or monthly pill
- ibandronate (Boniva), which is also available as a monthly pill
Injectable options include monoclonal antibodies and hormone therapies. They include:
- denosumab (Prolia), a monoclonal antibody injection you take once every 6 months
- romosozumab (Evenity), a monthly monoclonal antibody injection for postmenopausal women at high risk of fracture
- calcitonin (Fortical, Miacalcin), if you can’t take other medications or if they don’t work
- teriparatide (Forteo), a daily injection you give yourself
- abaloparatide (Tymlos), a daily injection you give yourself
Hormone treatments like Forteo and Tymlos are often
Calcitonin is also available as a nasal spray.
Your doctor may recommend treating your osteoporosis without medication if it’s mild and they don’t think you’re at an increased risk of fracturing a bone in the near future.
They may recommend some combination of:
- weight-bearing exercise
- proper nutrition with adequate vitamin D and calcium
- taking steps to prevent falls
- limiting alcohol and caffeine consumption
- avoiding or quitting smoking
Your doctor may recommend medications to slow bone breakdown or increase your rate of new bone growth if they think you’re at a future risk of fracturing a bone. Medications can be taken orally, through injections, or as infusions.
Infusions may help you stick to your treatment plan better. They may also help you avoid gastrointestinal side effects.
Zoledronic acid and ibandronate are the only two FDA-approved infusions to treat osteoporosis.
|Dosage||• 5 mg once per year for treatment |
• 5 mg once every 2 years for prevention
|• 3 mg every 3 months|
|FDA approval||• men |
• postmenopausal women
• people taking glucocorticoids
|• postmenopausal women|