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What Are the Treatment Options for Older Women Diagnosed With Osteoporosis?

Senior woman in flowered shirt and glasses sitting in front of flowers and smiling

Courtesy of Anita Ginsburg

Over 10 million people have been diagnosed with osteoporosis in the US alone, with another 13% of the population suffering from low bone density. This is a serious condition that is particularly common in women, so it’s important to learn about your prevention and treatment options.

Prevention

Since the possibility of this bone disease increases with age, you might think of prevention as something only young people should worry about. However, even if you’re over 50, there are things you can do to reduce your risk. You need to make sure you’re getting enough of the right nutrients in your diet, especially calcium, vitamin D, potassium, and protein. You should do what you can to stay active, and you should limit harmful substances like caffeine, alcohol, and tobacco.

Diagnosing Osteoporosis

If you have any of the common risk factors for osteoporosis, talk to your doctor about getting a bone density test. This is a non-invasive test that uses a low-level X-ray machine called a densitometer. Risk factors to look for include:

  • Sudden back pain
  • Stooped posture
  • Family history
  • Bone fractures at age 50 or over
  • Certain medications that increases your risk

Common Treatments

A 2014 German study concluded that women over 70 and men over 80 should be tested for osteoporosis. The same study showed that appropriate therapies are very effective.

The treatments your doctor might recommend include medications that slow down bone loss, others that aid in building new bone, and, for post-menopausal women, hormone replacement therapy.

The most common forms of medications that slow bone loss are biophosphonates, delivered by pill or injection. Another type of injectable bone loss reducing prescription is denosumab. It’s typically used in patients who can’t take biophosphonates.

For very low bone density patients, bone building drugs might be prescribed. These injectable drugs can reduce the risk of fractures significantly. Abaloparatide injection to treat osteoporosis was shown to reduce the risk of new vertebral fractures by 86%. This treatment targets postmenopausal women, who are at the greatest risk of osteoporotic fractures.

While hormone treatment, specifically estrogen and progestin used together, was once the most common treatment. This has changed as the health risks associated with hormone replacement have become better understood, and additional treatments like biophosphonates and abaloparatide injections have become available. If you are discussing the use of hormonal therapy to reduce symptoms of menopause, consider the benefits to your bone health.

While prevention measures are important and can improve your overall health, some risk factors that may lead to osteoporosis are unavoidable. Treatment options are available for older women who have been diagnosed with osteoporosis. Medications can be very successful in preventing debilitating problems as you get older. The important thing is to seek diagnosis and treatment from a trusted medical professional.

Bio: Anita is a freelance writer from Denver, CO. She studied at Colorado State University, and now writes articles about health, business, family and finance. A mother of two, she enjoys traveling with her family whenever she isn’t writing. You can follow her on Twitter @anitaginsburg.

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