Throughout our lives, our bones continually remodel themselves resulting in slight alterations to adjust to changes in our physiology. Sometimes, this process can go haywire, resulting in excess bone loss than bone growth and causes thinning of the bone structure. This condition is known as osteoporosis, and it increases the risk of fractures. This is a condition affecting older people, especially women in post-menopause, as well as those who have undergone a hysterectomy. The purpose of this article is to give you a better understanding of the working of medications used for osteoporosis treatment.
Bone Remodeling Process
Before discussing the working of medications used for osteoporosis treatment, let us understand about bone remodeling. This is a process made up of two processes and they are listed below.
- Bone Resorption: Specialized cells called osteoclasts break down bones; this is done by these cells after entering the bones and secreting enzymes that dissolve collagen and other minerals.
- Bone Growth: Specialized cells called osteoblasts form new bone materials; this is done by these cells by laying down calcium and phosphate crystals on the collagen scaffolding of the bone.
In healthy bones, bone resorption and bone growth are balanced, hormones like testosterone and estrogen play a critical role in this.
The two bone remodeling processes mentioned above can go awry as we grow old or due to certain diseases, and results in osteoporosis. The primary focus of most treatments for this condition is to restore the balance between bone resorption and bone growth. Shared below are the different medications used for this purpose.
Bisphosphonates: This is the most prescribed family of osteoporosis treatment medications. There are three major types of this, and they are Actonel, Boniva, and Fosamax. This class of drugs works by entering the bone and binds to areas undergoing resorption. When osteoclasts encounter bisphosphonates, the drug disrupts the bone resorption process. Hence, less bone is removed, thereby increasing the chances of its rebuilding.
Calcitonin: Calcitonin is a hormone secreted by the thyroid gland, and it attaches to osteoclasts disrupting its bone resorption function. The drug used for osteoporosis treatment is made using salmon calcitonin which is more potent than human calcitonin. So, consuming this medication reduces bone loss, increases bone density, and reduces bone pain. Moreover, this is mainly used for those who cannot tolerate bisphosphonates.
Vitamin D And Calcium: Vitamin D and calcium are the two most effective osteoporosis treatment options. They can be used to prevent, as well as manage this condition. Besides, Vitamin D is essential for calcium absorption, and every postmenopausal woman must consume 1,200 mg of calcium daily.
On a final note, apart from using osteoporosis treatment medications, lifestyle changes suggested by the orthopedic doctors must be strictly followed to keep osteoporosis in check.