I fell and broke my hip two weeks ago. I finally made it out of the hospital and home again. Now my doctor is after me to take drugs for osteoporosis. I don't see what's all the fuss. I already broke the hip. How is taking some medication going to change anything?
There is a mistaken belief that by the time a fracture has occurred, it's too late to do anything about the underlying osteoporosis. Nothing could be further from the truth. Study after study has confirmed the benefit of a three-arm approach to the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis (which includes preventing a second fracture).
The first is calcium supplementation with Vitamin D. The second is exercise. Weight-bearing exercises on land (not a swimming or aquatic program) helps bone formation. When the muscles contract and their tendons pull on the bone, it has the effect of stimulating bone formation. And third is the use of anti-osteoporotic medications called bisphosphonates.
Bisphosphonates such as alendronate (Fosamax), ibandronate (Boniva), or risedronate (Actonel) help slow down how fast the bone is resorbed (destroyed). Everyday new bone cells are formed and old bone cells are resorbed or destroyed. During childhood, new bone cells are formed faster than old ones are destroyed. In the aging adult, resorption exceeds formation.
Despite the number of older adults with osteoporosis and even a history of hip fracture, not very many people are taking these medications. And for those patients who do have a prescription, taking it on a regular basis is not consistent.
But they have been proven effective in reducing hip fractures and the death rate associated with hip fractures in patients with osteoporosis. And since your risk of a second fracture goes up dramatically after the first one, your doctor is right in strongly urging you to take this medication. It's important to take it as prescribed over a long period of time.
Follow your doctor and pharmacist's directions when taking this (or any) medication. Report any side effects. The drug dosage or specific drug can be changed or altered. The goal is to give you the maximum benefit with the least amount of adverse effects.
VÃ©ronique Rabenda, MSc, et al. Low Incidence of Anti-Osteoporosis Treatment After Hip Fracture. In
The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery
. October 2008. Vol. 90-A. No. 10. Pp. 2142-2148.
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