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Osteoporosis and the drug Alendronate

(35 Posts)
Llamedos13 Mon 11-Sep-23 14:01:47

A recent bone density test has resulted in me being told I have to start taking this drug for up to five years😱 I am 73 and apart from this am lucky to have good health.Has anyone else taken this drug and did it actually increase your bone density?Im thinking instead of taking the drug I’d rather change my eating habits and increase calcium this way.Also, the list of possible side effects is very long,did you have any of these?Any information you may have would be much appreciated. Thank you.

Farmor15 Mon 11-Sep-23 14:23:03

I was prescribed this drug and took it for a number of years. I've had Dexa (bone density scans) every 2 or 3 years. I had osteopenia but since taking the drug (and calcium+vit D) it hasn't progressed to osteoporosis. I never had side effects - was on the weekly dose taken before eating and sitting upright after for 30 min. It never bothered me - always sit up in bed reading in the morning anyway.

It's hard to increase bone density by diet alone. Weight bearing exercise is good, but the type of exercise needed - eg jumping from a step with straight legs - is not often suitable for older people. One thing to note is that many people are on ppi medications (eg Nexium) for acid reflux. These can interfere with absorption of calcium so should be minimised if you want to protect your bones!

SueDonim Mon 11-Sep-23 14:42:43

I had pretty much the same experience as Farmor. I took it for five years for osteopenia, after a double leg fracture. My last DEXA scan showed that I was back within normal parameters for bone density.

I occasionally had a bit of heartburn but nothing major, especially not compared to spending ten days in hospital, surgery and months of recovery from a fracture!

Jane43 Mon 11-Sep-23 14:55:24

I was prescribed the weekly tablet but couldn’t tolerate it so now I have an infusion every year which is much better. I haven’t progressed to osteoporosis yet, I take supplements for bone health - calcium, vitamin D3, boron and vitamin K2 which helps with calcium absorption. As well as milk I eat cheese, natural yogurt every day and tinned salmon once a week, I also eat broccoli regularly and almonds occasionally.

Oregano Mon 11-Sep-23 15:08:49

I have been taking it for over 5 years after my dexa scan showed up osteoporosis, my mum had it quite badly and was very stooped over and I didn't want to end up that way myself. I've had no problems at all with the drug but I must ask for another scan as I don't think there's any benefit after 5 years apparently.

Marydoll Mon 11-Sep-23 15:21:10

I have been on and off it for over thirty years.
Presently I am having a break from annual infusions. Eventually I could tolerate the tablets.
A lifetime of steroid use, R.A. and genetic factors are the cause of my osteoporosis.
I can assure you that it works. I was diagnosed with the hip of an eighty year old woman in my early thirties. I've had umpteen fractures, including serious two spinal ones.
Now my bone density is just below normal for a woman my age (68).
It does have side effects and you must inform your dentist if you are on it. You have to weigh up the pros and cons and decide is right for you.
You are very fortunate to reach the age of 73 without needing to take it.

Marydoll Mon 11-Sep-23 15:22:33

That read, couldn't tolerate the tablets.

luluaugust Mon 11-Sep-23 15:46:13

I was diagnosed with Osteoporosis after a fall and fracture. I took Alendronic acid for just on 5 years and got back to osteopenia in my hips and osteoporosis in my spine. At that point Covid broke out I was told that although I should have had a scan 2 yearly this was all left. Now 6 years on I have a Dexa scan soon. We shall see what horrors have occurred. I take Calcium and Vit D daily anyway. No side effects of Alendronic acid except a slightly rough throat towards the end of the 5 years. I would say give it a go.

Llamedos13 Mon 11-Sep-23 15:54:45

Thank you for the replies, very helpfull

AGAA4 Mon 11-Sep-23 16:16:08

I had to take it as an antidote to the cancer treatment which was thinning my bones. I took it for three years and my bone density increased during that time.

CocoPops Mon 11-Sep-23 16:18:30

I have osteopenia but chose not to have alendronate. I exercise at home with weights, take my dog for 2 x 1hr walks daily, have calcium and Vit D tabs and a diet rich in calcium.

M0nica Mon 11-Sep-23 16:30:38

I have just started taking it. I have no idea why I have osteoporosis. I do not tick any of the 'at risk' boxes and although my dyspraxia and a dodgy ankle make me prone to falls, I have never knowingly broken anything. However it showed up in a scan.

As far as I am concerned I intend to take the medication. If I can develop osteoporosis without ticking any at risk boxes and being physically active, then I will take any medication that will help me.

luluaugust Mon 11-Sep-23 16:37:17

I have found the Royal Osteoporosis Society website very useful

MiniMoon Mon 11-Sep-23 16:54:56

Your bones do not take up calcium from your diet. You have to trick mature bones into thinking they are still growing. Alendronic acid does this. It is a very safe drug. The dose is usually one tablet per week. My aunt used to take it and had no trouble at all.

BlueBelle Mon 11-Sep-23 18:18:48

I can’t take the tablet so I have annual infusions 3 years then a years rest Fell twice lately and no broken bones 🤞🏼

Franbern Tue 12-Sep-23 08:58:25

I have taken the weekly tablet since 2019 when a small fall resulted in a spinal stress fracture. Neve had a Dexa scan, two different GP surgeries told me no point, as someone of my age who sustgains a stress fracture MUST have Osteoporosis!!!

Read and was told about that long list of possible side-effects, but have never had any. Only side effect since taking these has been that my nails, which I had never been able to grow to anything like decent size, are now lovely and strong, and look good. Also take twice dails Adcal pill.

Been told my medical notes say I will come off Alendronic Acid in 2024.

baubles Tue 12-Sep-23 09:06:57

I’ve taken mine this morning but was only prescribed it a couple of months ago after sustaining several vertebral fractures for no apparent reason.

The only side effect has been occasional very slight reflux.

watermeadow Mon 18-Sep-23 09:21:52

I took Alandronate and vitamin D/calcium for 2 years for PRA. I’ve never had a scan (or even seen a doctor) so just have to hope they counteracted the steroids which weaken bones.
I don’t consume any dairy products and have never broken a bone.

GrannySomerset Mon 18-Sep-23 09:28:32

I was prescribed it after fracturing a vertebra but found it made me so sick I couldn’t persevere. No alternative was offered and, cross fingers, nothing else has broken in the seventeen years since.

Ladyleftfieldlover Mon 18-Sep-23 09:37:13

I took it for five years after my breast cancer diagnosis. A weekly tablet first thing and standing up for 30 minutes. When I needed a tooth extracted I had to have it done at the hospital rather than by my own dentist. No side effects that I know of.

Luckygirl3 Mon 18-Sep-23 09:43:33

I was unable to take this due to reflux and heartburn. I am not able to exercise in any significant way - just walking - but eat a calcium rich diet. I am now on denosumab injections 6 monthly. I have no idea whether these are working as apparently you need to take it for 5 years before significant progress takes place. And getting a dexa here is impossible - and there is no proper follow up. It is hopeless here. I hate being on this strong drug with no idea whether it is doing anything useful.

yggdrasil Mon 18-Sep-23 12:30:02

Very interesting. So much more information here than I could get a doctor to tell me. Thank you

M0nica Tue 19-Sep-23 08:05:58

I am not sure where you are, Luckygirl , but there isn't much follow up where I live either.

My osteoporosis was found when i had a DEXA scan for a research project I am part of. My GP referred me to the local hospital. I waited 8 months for another DEXA scan by the hospital, carried out by 2 technicians. Three months later I received a letter confirming I had osteoporosis and I had a brief phone call with a hospital doctor who told me that I was being put on medication.

Four months later, neither I nor my GP had been given any information about the medication, so I contacted the hospital again. I then had to wait another 3 months for another brief telephone consultation. They said again I was being put on medication for the rest of my life, referred me to the Royal Osteoporosis Society site, then thank you and goodbye.

Everything dealt with, prescribed and dismissed without me ever once seeing a doctor. They did follow through this time and the next time I renewed my prescription it included Alendronic Acid.

Now I know my case was quite simple, I have never broken a bone in my life and, for other reason I am prone to falls. My osteoporosis would not have been discovered without the research scan, but I do think I should have been seen by a doctor just once.

I will not say it is ageism. My 13 year old DGS suffers from anaemia, and his parents have been told that the hospital do not intend to do anything more to find the cause, as it is not severe enough. He has been signed off by the hospital and will just stay on his current medication indefinitely.

It is just what the NHS has descended to. If your illness does not have a quick fix, they do not want to know.

Marydoll Tue 19-Sep-23 09:04:06

My experience is different.

I had two yearly appointments with an endocrinologist for the last thirty years, then was transferred to a specialised bone mineral unit, where it was discovered I wasn't retaining vitamin D, which is necessary to absorb calcium.
I am still having Dexa scans, every two years, the latest one in the summer.

M0nica Tue 19-Sep-23 18:29:43

Marydoll remembering your posts on other threads, I think you have very complex medical problems that require constant checks and, rightly so, you get them.

Mine is a bog standard diagnosis, found by chance , with no symptoms and a simple remedy, but I would like to have seen a real live doctor just once.