University of Illinois Extension


Many medications are a source of treatment for those who have osteoporosis, and sometimes even used to help prevent osteoporosis. The following table lists some of the most popular medications along with positives, negatives, and side effects. This will help you, along with your medical care team, determine which treatment is best for your needs.

Medication Positives Negatives Side Effects
Hormone replacement therapy (estrogen; estrogen + progesterone) Can slow bone loss; can change blood cholesterol levels; lessens menopausal symptoms Risk for biliary disease; risk for breast, ovarian, and endometrial cancer; risk for deep vein thrombosis; can increase blood glucose and triglycerides; can change blood folate; menstrual bleeding continues Bloating, headaches, breast tenderness, irritability, depression, weight gain
Biphosphonates Alendronate (Fosomax), Risedronate (Actonel) Slows bone loss Esophageal irritation Esophageal irritation; gastrointestinal irritation
Calcitonin (Calcimar) Slows bone loss; may stimulate bone formation Anorexia, nausea, vomiting Anorexia, nausea, vomiting, metallic taste in mouth; local inflammation at injection site for injected form
Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulators (SERMs) Raloxifene (Evista) Slows bone loss; does not cause menstrual bleeding; may help change risk of breast cancer Risk for deep vein thrombosis Can cause hot flashes; can cause leg cramps, peripheral edema; may cause an increase in endometrial fluid
Parathyroid hormone (PTH), Teriparatide (Forteo) Increases bone formation Has been shown to cause bone cancer in animals Headaches, gastrointestinal disorders, leg cramps, dizziness, depression

*All medications require adequate calcium and vitamin D intake for optimal effectiveness. Talk to your medical care team about the medication that may be right for you.

Not all medications help slow bone loss. Some other medications that you are currently taking may do the opposite. Those working against bone health include:

Corticosteroids are sometimes prescribed for a number of inflammatory illnesses such as asthma, chronic lung disease, arthritis, and some gastrointestinal diseases. There are a number of corticosteroids:

Drug Brand Names
Betamethasone Celestone
Cortisone Cortone
Dexamethasone Cortastat, Dalalone, Decadron, Dexacorten, Dexasone, Primethasone, Solurex
Hydrocortisone A-hydroCort, Cortef, Hydrocortone
Methylprednisolone A-MethaPred, depMedalone, Depoject, Depo-Medrol, Deproped, Depo-Predate, Duralone, Med-Jec-40, Medralone, Medrol, Meprolone, Methacort, Methylcotolone, Predacorten, Solu-Medrol
Prednosolone Articulose-50, Cotolone, Delta-Cortef, Key-Pred, Nor-Pred T.B.A., Prediapred, Predacort 50, Predalone, Predate-50, Predcor, Predicort, Prelone
Prednisone Cordrol, Deltasone, Medicorten, Orasone, Prednocot, Prednisone Intensol, Pred-Pak 45, 79, Sterapred
Triancinolone Acetocot, Amcort, Aristocort, Aristopak, Articulose, Cinalone, Cinonide, Clinacort, Clinalog, Kenacort, Kenalog-10, 40, Kenaject-40, Ken-Jec 40, Tax-3, Tramacont-D, Triam-A, Triam-Forte, Triamolone 40, Triamonide 40, Tri-Kort, Trilog, Trilone, Tristoject

With long-term, chronic corticosteroid use there is a decrease in calcium absorption, an increase in calcium excretion, and some effects on the bone cells (osteoblsts and osteoclasts). However, there is a great deal of individual variation in bone loss due to corticosteroid treatment.

If you are taking one of these medications on a continuous basis, you may want to talk with your health care professional about the possible effects of this medication on your bone health