Osteoporosis is a chronic condition caused by the loss of bone density. You can reverse the loss of bone density with medical therapies that may slow, maintain, or even increase your bone density.
Your doctor may recommend taking certain medications to prevent or treat bone loss, and some may even help you rebuild bone density.
You can also help prevent fractures and other symptoms of osteoporosis with:
- a nutritious diet
- regular exercise
- healthy habits
- the use of supplements (possibly)
A serious complication of osteoporosis is breaking a bone, which can lead to:
- chronic pain
- limited mobility
- a loss of independence
It’s important to avoid falls as much as possible.
Can osteoporosis be reversed without medications?
Your doctor diagnoses osteoporosis based on bone density loss. You can have different degrees of the condition, and catching it early can help you prevent the condition from worsening.
You cannot reverse bone loss on your own. But there are a lot of ways you can stop further bone loss.
If you are diagnosed with osteoporosis or at a greater risk for developing it, your doctor may recommend certain medications to take. Your risk for the condition may increase due to:
- prior health conditions
- certain medication use
Treatment with medication aims to prevent the condition from getting worse and reduce your risk for fracturing bones.
Two types of medications can help treat osteoporosis.
- Antiresorptive medications. They slow the breakdown of bone density. You can take them as oral tablets, nasal sprays, injections, and intravenous administrations. The most common drugs prescribed are bisphosphonates like alendronate, risedronate, and zoledronic acid. Other options are estrogen-like medicines, such as denosumab and calcitonin.
- Anabolics. They generate more bone than you are losing. This helps to rebuild your bone density. They are only available through injection. They include parathyroid hormone (PTH), parathyroid hormone-related protein (PTHrP), and romosozumab-aqqg.
How to help reverse bone loss
You cannot reverse bone loss on your own without medications, but there are many lifestyle modifications you can make to stop more bone loss from occurring.
Eating a diet that is nutrient-rich and diverse is important to keep your bones strong. Consuming these foods can give your bones a boost:
- dairy products
- certain proteins
Here are some of the vitamins and minerals you want to incorporate into your diet for bone health.
- Calcium. It’s an important mineral for bone health. Dairy products and many dark leafy greens are good sources of calcium. But too much calcium can also be problematic. Look at food labels to determine how much calcium is in each serving.
- Vitamin D. It helps your body process calcium, among other health benefits. Fish with lots of fat, like tuna and salmon, contain this vitamin. Other foods like milk and orange juice may be fortified with it. You can get vitamin D by going out in the sun, but be mindful of prolonged exposure to ultraviolet rays.
There are also drinks and ingredients you should avoid or reduce consumption of to help your bone health.
- Alcohol. Heavy drinking can promote bone loss. It’s a good idea to have no more than two or three drinks per day.
- Caffeine. Beverages and foods containing caffeine can also affect the way your body processes calcium.
- Soda. Certain soft drinks, specifically cola, may be associated with bone loss. More research is needed to understand exactly what causes this.
Engaging in regular exercise can help your bones stay strong in adulthood. There are additional benefits to exercise like strengthening your muscles to help you stay coordinated and balanced.
These benefits can also help you prevent falls or bumps into objects that might lead to broken bones with osteoporosis.
You should engage in several types of exercise regularly to help your bones:
- Weight-bearing exercises. These include aerobic activities like walking, dancing, and tennis that fight against gravity during movement.
- Resistance exercises. These are movements that use weights, bands, body weight, or other equipment to build strength.
- Stretches. They’re movements that can keep your body flexible and make it easier to move.
Talk with your doctor about appropriate exercise routines. You should avoid high impact exercises and may need to modify certain activities to avoid injury.
Eliminating unhealthy habits
Unhealthy habits like these can worsen osteoporosis:
- drinking too much alcohol
- eating unhealthy foods
To maximize your nutrition and maintain a healthy weight, you can try to:
- refrain from smoking
- reduce or eliminate how much alcohol you drink each week
- eat a healthy diet with limited sugars, salts, and processed foods
Your diet alone may not be enough to maintain an adequate level of bone-healthy vitamins and minerals.
Your doctor may recommend taking a multivitamin or a supplement of specific vitamins or minerals to meet your daily requirements. It is important to take the recommended amount.
Keep in mind that the Food and Drug Administration does not approve or control supplements, so check in with your doctor before you start using them and purchase them from a reputable manufacturer.
Osteoporosis vs. osteopenia
Osteopenia indicates low bone mass. This is a condition that could lead to osteoporosis, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s a foregone conclusion. You may be able to rely on lifestyle modifications to stop bone loss, like:
- a healthy, robust, and diverse diet
- a regular variety of exercise
- supplements, if needed
Your doctor may also recommend taking medications to prevent osteoporosis from developing.
A diagnosis of osteoporosis comes when your bone mass is low. You may find out you have osteoporosis from a bone scan or after you experience a broken bone.
Osteoporosis is often a condition associated with aging, and women can be especially vulnerable to it.
How clinical treatments help
You should always follow the health treatment plan recommended for osteoporosis. It might be easy to ignore the condition because symptoms are not obvious.
But delaying or neglecting treatment for osteoporosis can lead to bone breaks and other symptoms like:
- shrinking in height
- poor posture
There are a variety of medications to treat osteoporosis, so you and your doctor can determine the best option for you. For example, some medications you may need to take daily.
Others may require administration at a doctor’s office a few times a month or once a year.
Your treatment plan is considered successful if you stop bone density from decreasing and do not experience bone fractures or breaks. Some treatments will also help you rebuild bone density.
Your doctor may recommend a change in treatment if you experience worsening symptoms or if your medication is only helpful for a certain period of time.
There may be instances where you take a break from medication. You may need to take medication again at some point. Your doctor will monitor your condition to determine what type of treatment you need.
When to talk with a doctor
Talk with your doctor about concerns regarding your treatment plan. You can discuss ways to make sure you follow instructions for any prescribed medications.
Your doctor may even suggest a different type of treatment if your current plan does not adhere to your lifestyle.
Discuss ways to incorporate healthy lifestyle habits to stop bone density loss and prevent the condition from getting worse.
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