Q. I have been on thyroid hormone replacement for more than 20 years. Now I have been diagnosed with osteoporosis.

My doctor prescribed Fosamax and then Actonel. I have heard that such drugs can cause jaw bone deterioration. This happened to a friend of mine and I am quite concerned.

What other options are available for treating osteoporosis?

A. Too much thyroid hormone can weaken bones. Although medications like Fosamax and Actonel are popular treatments for osteoporosis, they have been linked to osteonecrosis of the jaw. Jaw bone death does not seem to be common, but it is a frightening side effect and extremely difficult to treat. It appears to be triggered by dental extractions or other invasive procedures. People with known dental problems should have them taken care of before starting such medication.

There are a number of other medicines that can strengthen the bones. Ask your doctor to discuss Menostar, Evista, Miacalcin and Forteo as possible alternatives. Each of these works differently from Fosamax and all are used to treat osteoporosis.

There is lots more information about treatments for osteoporosis and hypothyroidism in our new book, Best Choices From The People’s Pharmacy. You can find it in your library, local bookstore or online (www.peoplespharmacy.com).

People with low bone density should be sure to get adequate vitamin D along with calcium and magnesium. That would be at least 1,000 IU vitamin D a day.

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  1. Rebecca B

    Recently I was sent to an endocrenologist after being treated for thyroid problems for years, and now have noticeable reduction in bone density over the last couple of years. I’ve had leg pain on occasion since a colon bypass a couple of years ago. The only thing the doctor said “may” be causing this is Vitamin D deficiency but never did anything further about it. Also, I could not digest the Actonel pills for osteo treatment due to my small stomach.
    Upon the first vist to the endocrinologist, he discussed my severe level of Vitamin D! I will now take a prescription Vitamin D to get this back on track… THEN continue to see what the osteo situation is. He is also checking kidney and organ functions as well since this can contribute to bone deterioration.
    So, bottom line, what you are saying in your July 25, 2007 article is exactly on track. I’m so pleased I’ve discovered you FINALLY. :)

  2. C.Chamier

    I have been taking FOSAMAX for years now, and approx. two years ago, I had a tooth which supported a small bridge pontic simply die in my jaw–no pain– only symptom was loosening of the bridge. Tooth and bridge had to be removed. Replacement too expensive. Dentist very puzzled. Could this occurance be attributed to ALENDRONATE? I have noticed the day I take the prescribed dose, I suffer much bone pain in problem areas.

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