What if I Fracture While Taking Antiresorptive Osteoporosis Medication?
You have started taking Osteoporosis Medication. You think you have entirely eliminated your Fracture Risk. Then, WHAM – you have a Fracture! What went wrong?
It is time to re-evaluate. There are many possible reasons for your fracture.
First, all osteoporosis medications gradually become effective over months. Therefore, if you fracture within the first few months, there has not been enough time for it to become fully effective.
By two to three years, all osteoporosis medications Decrease Fracture Risk by 1/2 to 2/3. That is very good, but not perfect.
Second, you need to be sure you are getting enough Absorbable Calcium in 3 doses of 400-500 mg In Foods or With Foods – every day. You need to have a high enough Vitamin D level to absorb the Calcium. You need Magnesium too – a Multiple Vitamin and Mineral (taken with a full meal) should be enough. You also need Protein (1gram per kg of body weight). If you had Secondary HyperParathyroidism, it must be resolved.
Third, Bisphosphonate pills are sometimes not absorbed adequately. When they work, we actually absorb less than 1% of the drug taken. If this is a problem, Reclast or Prolia can get around the absorption issue. Of course, skipped doses do not work at all.
Fourth, there may be other issues causing fragility. A Complete Bone Health Evaluation will usually identify Diabetes, HypoThyroidism, Colitis, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Lactose or Gluten sensitivities, etc. These need to be fixed too.
Finally, your Osteoporosis may be too severe to be ideally treated with Antiresorptives. Very low BMD and T-scores, multiple Fragility Fractures, Vertebral Fracture Deformities (especially multiple) are all indications that you probably should start with the Anabolic, Forteo, to build up your Bone Matrix enough that a Antiresorptive can then be the best treatment.
Fracture while on medication? Time to re-evaluate. Then modify your program if needed.
Jay Ginther, MD