Corticosteroid-induced osteoporosis



What is Corticosteroid-induced osteoporosis?

Corticosteroid-induced osteoporosis, as the name suggests, results due to prolonged usage of corticosteroids.

While corticosteroids help in suppressing the inflammation, if used over a long period of time, they would bring about some severe side-effects, including osteoporosis. Corticosteroids cause a decrease in calcium absorption of the body, which leads to breaking down of old bone tissue and prevention of new bone formation, ultimately leading to osteoporosis or loss of bone density.

How common is Corticosteroid-induced osteoporosis?

Please discuss with your doctor for further information.


What are the symptoms of Corticosteroid-induced osteoporosis?

The first signs of corticosteroid-induced osteoporosis may be easy fracturing of the hip or wrist.

Compression fractures in the spine due to inability of the bones to bear the normal pressure of being in upright posture is another strong indicator of osteoporosis. Other symptoms include sudden severe pain in the back and loss of height.

There may be some symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.

When should I see my doctor?

If you or your loved one has any signs or symptoms listed above or you have any questions, please consult with your doctor. Everyone’s body acts differently. It is always best to discuss with your doctor what is best for your situation.


What causes Corticosteroid-induced osteoporosis?

A human body’s functioning involves both processes of new bone formation and breaking down of old bone. It depends on the body’s ability as to how it can balance between these two processes and form dense and strong bones. One of the majors side effects of corticosteroids is that they reduce intestinal calcium absorption and increase renal calcium excretion. This incident ultimately results in osteoporosis or loss of bone density.

Risk factors

What increases my risk for Corticosteroid-induced osteoporosis?

Please consult with your doctor for further information.

Diagnosis & treatment

The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.

How is Corticosteroid-induced osteoporosis diagnosed?

A complete subjective and physical examination is necessary to diagnose the condition of corticosteroid-induced osteoporosis. Typically, a DEXA scan is required for measuring bone density.

How is Corticosteroid-induced osteoporosis treated?

The first and foremost step toward treatment is to try to bring down the amount of corticosteroids being used, and much better if they can be replaced with nonsteroidal medications. Given below are few of the treatment modalities used to treat corticosteroid-induced osteoporosis.

Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT): Hormone replacement therapy usually helps in preventing osteoporosis in women. However, this may also include side effects such as increased risk of gallbladder problems, blood clots and heart disorders. Hormone replacement therapy when taken with the combination of estrogen along with medroxyprogesterone acetate like Prempro for prolonged period may increase the risk of breast cancer.

If hormone replacement therapy does not work appropriately, other drugs that help in slowing down bone loss and increasing bone density may be prescribed, including:

  • Bisphosphonates: Bisphosphonates help in preserving bone mass, reducing breaking down of the bone and also increase bone density in the hip and spine. Fosamax is the most commonly used bisphosphonate.
  • Raloxifene: Raloxifene decreases risk of cancer while retaining the positive qualities of estrogen with regard to bone density at the same time. However, it does carry some side effects the most common being hot flashes. Patients having a past medical history of blood clots should not use this drug.
  • Calcitonin: Calcitonin is used by the patients who cannot use bisphosphonates and estrogen. Calcitonin helps in slowing down bone loss and preventing fractures of the spine, however, it does not help in preventing hip fractures. Calcitonin is used in the form of nasal spray due to which 12 percent of patients develop nasal irritation. Calcitonin is used by patients who are at a higher risk of fracture.
  • Tamoxifen: Tamoxifen is an artificial hormone often used to treat breast cancer. Although tamoxifen helps in blocking effect of estrogen on breast tissue, but at the same time it also has estrogen-like effect on other cells of the body including bone cells. Tamoxifen may also have severe side effects.
  • Statins: This class of drugs not only helps in decreasing the cholesterol levels but may also reduce the risk of bone fractures in women when they use statins for about a year or so. However, the drugs are not given on a daily basis for osteoporosis. Side effects may include potential reversible liver damage and muscle inflammation in rare cases.

Lifestyle changes & home remedies

What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage Corticosteroid-induced osteoporosis?

The following lifestyles and home remedies might help you cope with Corticosteroid-induced osteoporosis:

Since osteoporosis is a known side effect of corticosteroids, bone density levels need to be monitored periodically as soon as the patient starts on corticosteroids to have a good control on the condition.

If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.


Review Date: March 8, 2018 | Last Modified: March 8, 2018

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