Treatment of postmenopausal osteoporosis

Lancet. 2002 Jun 8;359(9322):2018-26. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(02)08827-X.


The aim of treatment of postmenopausal osteoporosis is to reduce the frequency of vertebral and non-vertebral fractures (especially at the hip), which are responsible for morbidity associated with the disease. Results of large placebo controlled trials have shown that alendronate, raloxifene, risedronate, the 1-34 fragment of parathyroid hormone, and nasal calcitonin, greatly reduce the risk of vertebral fractures. Furthermore, a large reduction of non-vertebral fractures has been shown for alendronate, risedronate, and the 1-34 fragment of parathyroid hormone. Calcium and vitamin D supplementation is not sufficient to treat individuals with osteoporosis but is useful, especially in elderly women in care homes. Hormone replacement therapy remains a valuable option for the prevention of osteoporosis in early postmenopausal women. Choice of treatment depends on age, the presence or absence of prevalent fractures, especially at the spine, and the degree of bone mineral density measured at the spine and hip. Non-pharmacological interventions include adequate calcium intake and diet, selected exercise programmes, reduction of other risk factors for osteoporotic fractures, and reduction of the risk of falls in elderly individuals.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Calcium / therapeutic use
  • Female
  • Fractures, Bone / etiology
  • Fractures, Bone / prevention & control
  • Hormone Replacement Therapy / adverse effects*
  • Humans
  • Osteoporosis, Postmenopausal / complications
  • Osteoporosis, Postmenopausal / drug therapy*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulators / therapeutic use*
  • Vitamin D / therapeutic use


  • Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulators
  • Vitamin D
  • Calcium