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Treating Osteoporosis

X-ray of a woman taken with a DXA machine.

Do You Need Treatment?

The standard of care for treating osteoporosis has changed since 2008, when treatment recommendations were based solely on a person’s bone mineral density.

Today, treatment recommendations are based on your total osteoporotic fracture risk, as calculated by the World Health Organization’s Fracture Risk Assessment (FRAX) Tool.

The FRAX tool incorporates your femoral bone mineral density score along with information such as:

  • Age
  • Sex
  • Weight
  • Height
  • Fracture history
  • Parental history of hip fracture
  • Smoking status
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Prescription drug use
  • Other disease diagnoses

Based on the information you provide, an estimate of your chances of suffering a hip fracture and other major osteoporotic fracture (spine, forearm, hip or shoulder fracture) in the next 10 years is generated. Our doctors use these results to tailor your treatment plan.

In the U.S., treatment is recommended if a person’s 10-year risk of a hip fracture is 3 percent or greater, or if their 10-year risk of major osteoporotic fracture is 20 percent or more.

Preventing A Second Fracture

The bone health specialists at UC San Diego Health help ensure that anyone who incurs a hip fracture as a result of a fall from a standing height or less will receive a fracture risk assessment, treatment (if necessary), and continued care from an orthopedist and osteoporosis specialist. This service is instrumental in the prevention of secondary and subsequent fractures.

Who Treats Osteoporosis

Several medical specialists can treat osteoporosis including:


Endocrinologists specialize in the branch of medicine that focuses on glands in the body (e.g., ovaries, adrenal glands) that secrete hormones. Hormones help regulate bone cell activity and are thus essential to maintaining skeletal integrity. Hormonal dysfunction can disrupt the creation of new bone and breakdown of old bone, leading to a net loss in bone mass.


Geriatricians regularly treat osteoporosis since age is the single-greatest risk factor for sustaining an osteoporotic fracture.

How Is Osteoporosis Treated?

Non-Drug Treatments

You can treat osteoporosis through diet and other lifestyle changes. Non-drug treatments include making sure that you:

  • Get adequate intake of dietary calcium and vitamin D
  • Engage in regular weight-bearing physical activity or resistance training
  • Minimize alcohol intake
  • Don’t smoke and quit if you do
  • Learn fall prevention strategies
  • Do exercises that help develop a greater sense of balance

FDA-Approved Drug Therapies for Osteoporosis

The following drug therapies may be recommended in addition to diet and lifestyle changes.

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Estrogen receptor modulator

Monoclonal antibody

Parathyroid hormone and related therapies


Appointments & Referrals

Osteoporosis Clinic Locations

La Jolla



Our Team