Treatment and Prevention of Osteoporosis

Getting enough calcium and vitamin D is key to keeping bones strong as you age.

Treating osteoporosis involves a combination of a balanced diet rich in calcium and vitamin D; regular exercise, medication and fall prevention. Quitting smoking and drinking alcohol in moderation are also important to keep bones strong.


Getting enough calcium and vitamin D is needed to build strong, dense bones when you're young and to keep them strong and healthy as you age. Good food sources of calcium include:

  • Dairy products, such as low-fat and non-fat milk, yogurt and cheese
  • Vegetables such as spinach, kale, okra, collards
  • Soybeans and white beans
  • Some fish, including sardines, salmon, perch and rainbow trout
  • Calcium-fortified foods, such as some orange juice, oatmeal and breakfast cereal
  • Foods that provide vitamin D include:
  • Fatty fish, like tuna, mackerel, and salmon
  • Foods fortified with vitamin D, like some dairy products, orange juice, soy milk, and cereals
  • Beef liver
  • Cheese
  • Egg yolks


The best exercise for bone health includes strength training or resistance training. Exercise can also reduce your risk of falling by increasing muscle mass and strength, and improving your coordination and balance. If you have osteoporosis, avoid high-impact exercise. A physical therapist or rehabilitation medicine specialist can show you specific exercises that are best for you.


Bisphosphonates are drugs (alendronate, risedronate, ibandronate, and zoledronic acid) that slow bone loss, reduce risk of fractures and may in some cases increase bone density.

Estrogen is approved to treat menopausal symptoms and osteoporosis in women after menopause. The Food and Drug Administration recommends women take the lowest effective dose for the shortest period possible, because some studies have found women who take estrogen may be at increased risk of breast cancer, strokes, blood clots and heart attacks.

Raloxifene is a non-hormonal drug that has estrogen-like effects on bone, but blocks estrogen effects in the breast and uterus. It slows bone loss, and reduces the risk of spinal fractures.

Calcitonin, taken as a daily nasal spray or injection, is approved for the treatment of osteoporosis in women who are at least five years past menopause. It is a hormone produced by the thyroid gland. Calcitonin slows bone loss and reduces the risk of spine fractures.

Teriparatide is a form of human parathyroid hormone that stimulates new bone formation. It is given as a daily injection for up to 24 months. Teriparatide increases bone tissue and bone strength, and has been shown to reduce the risk of spine and other fractures. It is approved for use in postmenopausal women and men who are at high risk of fracture.

Denosumab slows the formation and action of cells called osteoclasts, which naturally break down bone. By slowing down the osteoclasts, denosumab allows bone to become more dense. It is available as an injection every six months for men and postmenopausal women.

Preventing Falls

If you have osteoporosis, it is very important to take steps, both inside the home and while you’re outside, to reduce your risk of falls.

At home:

  • Take a close look at your footwear. Choose sturdy shoes with nonskid soles, and avoid high heels, floppy slippers and shoes with slick soles.
  • Make your home safer by removing potential tripping hazards such as boxes, newspapers, electrical cords and phone cords from walkways.
  • Use double-faced tape or a slip-resistant backing to secure loose rugs, or remove the rugs altogether.
  • Use nonslip mats in the shower or bathtub, and use nonskid floor wax.
  • Only use a stepladder that is stable and has a handrail.
  • Make sure your home is brightly lit, to help you avoid tripping on objects that are difficult to see. Put night lights in the bedroom, hallways and bathroom, and have a lamp within easy reach of your bed for when you get up in the middle of the night.
  • Consider having a personal emergency-response system that you can use to call for help if you fall.

When you are outside your home:

  • Use a cane or walker for added stability.
  • Wear shoes that give you good support. Choose thin nonslip soles.
  • Walk on grass when sidewalks are slippery. During the winter, sprinkle salt or kitty litter on slippery sidewalks.
  • Be careful when you walk on highly polished floors, especially when they are wet.
  • Stop at curbs and check their height before stepping up or down.
Updated on: 05/12/15
Continue Reading:
Osteoporosis Overview