|Bone Density Measurement Can Determine Effectiveness of Osteoporosis Medication|
|Wednesday, 21 September 2011 12:00|
Dear Mayo Clinic:
How do I know if my osteoporosis medication is working?
Bone density tests are easy, fast and painless. Virtually no preparation is needed. In fact, some simple versions of the bone density tests can be done at your local pharmacy or drugstore.
Most experts recommend getting a follow-up bone density measurement one or two years after you start treatment. If your bone density is found to be falling significantly, your doctor may need to re-evaluate your response to the therapy.
In addition to medication, you should also be taking other steps to maintain bone health, such as taking calcium and vitamin D. It's also important that you not smoke and that you avoid excessive use of alcohol. In addition, make low-impact, weight-bearing exercise, such as walking and strength training, a part of your daily routine.
Beyond that first follow-up bone density measurement, you don't really need further testing. But many women choose to continue the tests to reinforce the value of their treatment and feel positive about taking their medication. That's better than stopping treatment after a year or two — which about half the women taking medication weekly for osteoporosis do.
These bone density checks and talking with your doctor about the reasons for staying on your medication are reasonable ways to monitor and feel positive about your treatment. If you opt for regular bone density testing, you'll probably be tested every two years. The interval may increase to every three years or longer, depending on your bone density test results.
Blood and urine tests that measure markers of bone turnover also may be helpful in knowing if your osteoporosis medication is working as expected. Talk to your doctor about whether these tests are a good option for you.
— Bart Clarke, M.D., Endocrinology, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn.