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Keywords:

  • bisphosphonates;
  • bone mass density;
  • osteoporosis

Introduction: Osteoporosis is a chronic disease that is estimated to affect more than 75 million people worldwide. The US Department of Health and Human Services projects that the disease will impact more than 10 million women by 2020 if efforts to prevent it are ineffective. This article provides an overview of the pathophysiology of osteoporosis, prevention measures, and an update of the US Food and Drug Administration–approved medications that are used in the treatment of this widespread disease.

Methods: The current literature on the pathology, risks, and treatment of osteoporosis was reviewed. Studies providing the evidence for best practices are included in the following sections: prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of osteoporosis. Current national standards for diagnosis and treatment are highlighted.

Results: Bisphosphonates continue to be the most popular and widely used pharmacologic treatment for osteoporosis. However, when bisphosphonates are contraindicated or cause side effects so serious that it is not possible for some women to use them, alternative pharmacologic treatments and forms of dosing are available.

Discussion: When lifestyle and dietary modifications are insufficient to offset a diagnosis of osteoporosis, there are a variety of pharmaceutical options available that will provide safe and effective protection against fracture due to osteoporosis.