Alternative to Fosomax for osteoporosis
August 10, 2019 12:21 PM   Subscribe

Writing for friend who has T score of 2.9. Physician recommends Fosomax. Friend would prefer to address this through diet, or other alternative approach, if possible.

Not sure if this is relevant, but friend is female, age 67, and in good physical condition otherwise.

We'd like to hear from anyone who a) has experience with Fosomax and can report results or unwanted symptoms, and b) has experience with any other approaches to reverse bone loss and build bone density.
posted by elf27 to Health & Fitness (11 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I'm still in the osteopenia range (measured about 3 years ago) and I'm taking 3 calcium +D3 (Caltrate, I think) tablets a day plus 2 multivitamins. I recently was prescribed D2 which I take once a week. I've been on the calcium and multivitamin for almost 4 years now. I had bariatric surgery which inhibits absorption of vitamins and minerals. I'm also on Lupron and Anastrozole for breast cancer treatment. I broke my arm last year and will have another bone density test done this fall to see if things have progressed.

I say all this because 2.9 puts you in the osteoporosis range. You friend should be doing the calcium/D stuff. I've also hear weight bearing exercise can help.

In the end, osteoporosis is no joke. My grandmother took Fosomax for a number of years after she broke her wrist and had no problems with it. She had pain from the break until she died. And I've had severe pain off and on in my arm where I broke it.
posted by kathrynm at 12:42 PM on August 10 [1 favorite]

I had a different type of low calcium disorder and needed to build bone density. My doctor told me to take a ton of Tums every day for months (I can't remember how many he had me take). I then had a bone scan and got great results. My doctor said Tums are just as good as prescription calcium and much less expensive. However I have no idea if they would for your friend and she really needs to make sure with a doctor before taking this or any other approach.
posted by hazyjane at 1:00 PM on August 10

She should absolutely start a weight-training program. Obviously start out gently but try to employ free weights if possible. Weight-training will preserve her existing bone density and can even improve it. However, it is absolutely crucial that she continue to progressively increase resistance as she is able and not stick with light weights over fears of looking "bulky". It's only going to help if she is loading her bones, not if she is restricting herself to doing 1-lbs bicep curls forever.
posted by schroedinger at 2:08 PM on August 10 [3 favorites]

Strong Women Stay Young is a book based on research showing improvement in osteoporosis, particularly through a strength-training program.

It looks like she’s also written a book called Strong Women, Strong Bones, which is specifically about osteoporosis.
posted by FencingGal at 2:16 PM on August 10

Mom’s been on the weekly Fosamax pill for almost a year. Much terror about side effects. No actual side effects. Her next bone scan is in the fall and we’re hoping for improvement.
posted by kimberussell at 2:32 PM on August 10 [1 favorite]

I get a Prolia injection twice a year. Also calcium and prescription-strength Vitamin D. No fractures in the last few years (24 before that).
posted by The Underpants Monster at 2:36 PM on August 10 [2 favorites]

I've done serious weight-bearing exercise for more than 35 years (I'm 64 now). Dexascans still place me in the osteopenia range. When I took Fosamax and even infused Reclast, I was building bone density. When the loss of a kidney (due to cancer) prevented me from continuing with the meds, I stopped gaining bone density. My understanding, and my experience, is that you can prevent further bone loss through exercise but only meds can increase bone density. And FWIW, I personally had no side effects from either the oral or the infused medications although my mother experienced some severe nausea from the oral meds.
posted by DrGail at 5:16 PM on August 10 [3 favorites]

In the exercise vein, my mom teaches a Bone Builders class at a local retirement community. It's a national program open to adults over (I think) 55. I think the classes are usually funded by some government agency and are free or very low cost, if a gentle introduction to weights with other older adults would appeal to your friend vs joining a gym. (Some of my mom's class don't use weights at all. And some are very fit ninety year olds using heavier weights than I did when I visited.)
posted by hoyland at 6:21 PM on August 10

My mom, who is 71 and has had osteoporosis for many years, just started OsteoStrong. She's only been doing it a couple months, so she hasn't had another DEXA scan to see for herself if it works, but she has met other women that have shown her the improvements in their scans.
posted by Barnifer at 8:54 PM on August 10

I've been taking Fosomax 1x/week for a year, following total hip replacement surgery a little over a year ago. I also take Vit. D3 and cal-mag-zinc supplements and my daily senior multivitamin has some calcium in it. I only got the jaw ache (warned about in the leaflet that comes with it) once, following the very first dose I took. I've been diligent in following the instructions to take with water only and to wait 1/2 hour before eating/drinking/taking any other supplements since, and can report that I've had very few problems (so far so good!).
posted by Lynsey at 12:07 PM on August 11

I am 61, fit, have osteopenia, and broke my hip in a simple fall in January. This was a traumatic and life-changing event for me--I was way too young to break my hip! As a result I saw an endocrinologist and had my first Reclast infusion and there were no side effects. IANAD but my understanding is that Reclast works like Fosomax but you don't have to take a pill every day or every week, instead you get an infusion once per year. I was concerned about the chances of getting one of the severe side effects, but I was convinced to start meds when they showed me a chart comparing the possibility of rare side effects to the much greater possibility of breaking another bone.
posted by a fish out of water at 5:42 PM on August 11

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