Manage Medications to Preserve Bone Health


Medication management may help reduce the risk of secondary bone fractures.


According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, roughly 2.5 million seniors are treated in the emergency department for injuries caused by falls every year. These injuries are often bone fractures, which can cause limited mobility and independence.

Many precautions may help reduce the risk of falling. But new studies show that properly managing medication intake may help reduce the likelihood of bone fractures if a fall does occur.

The Study

Researchers with The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice and Boston University School of Public Health analyzed data from 168,133 Medicare beneficiaries who had experienced a bone fracture in the hip, shoulder or wrist. Eighty-four percent of the study subjects were women, and the average age of the study participants was 80.

According to the Boston University researchers, the goal of the study was to examine the relationship between prescription medication intake and fracture risk in individuals who have already endured a fragility fracture. Research gathered before the study indicated these patients might be more likely to experience another fracture, especially within six months after the initial injury.

The researchers examined 21 medication classes associated with increased fracture risk, first testing them as a single group and then dividing them into the following three categories:

  1. Medications that may increase the likelihood of falls
  2. Medications that decrease bone density
  3. Medications that may increase fracture risk for an unknown reason

After examining the incidence of fracture in study subjects, the researchers discovered that the more than 75 percent of the subjects had exposure to at least one of the drugs in the three categories listed above during a four-month period before the fractures occurred.

The Takeaway

While more research is needed, the study suggests there may be an association between fractures and medications. Talking with your healthcare provider about any medications you are taking and the associated risks is always a good idea.

Healthy Habits to Help Your Bones

According to the Arthritis Foundation, osteoporosis will cause approximately half of all women and one-fourth of all men older than 50 to fracture a bone. And while certain risk factors, such as sex, age, ethnicity and family history cannot be controlled, there are a few lifestyle practices that may reduce your risk of osteoporosis. To keep you bones as healthy as possible, keep these tips from the National Institutes of Health in mind:

  • Fuel up with the right foods. Calcium, protein and vitamin D are a few nutrients that are key to your bone health.

  • Get moving. Regular weight-bearing exercise can help improve the health of your bones.

  • If you smoke, take steps to quit. Individuals who smoke may not absorb bone-building calcium as effectively as those who do not.

  • Manage your medications. Talk with your healthcare provider about medications that may decrease bone mass. Together, you can weigh the benefits and risks of each medication.

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