Staying on Treatment

Taking your osteoporosis treatment as recommended by your health professional helps protect you from fractures and allows you to stay active and independent.

There are a number of effective treatment options available, but these can only work if taken as recommended. It is common for people with osteoporosis to find taking medication challenging.

As a result, up to half of people stop their treatment after only one year [1-3].

Why continue taking your treatment?

Compared to people who adhere to their osteoporosis treatment, people with inadequate adherence will have:

  • Smaller increases in bone mineral density (the strength of bones as represented by calcium content) [4]
  • Weaker suppression of bone resorption (the breakdown of bone by cells known as osteoclasts) [5]
  • Greater fracture risk [6]

This is why it important to take treatment as recommended by your health professional.

8 tips for staying on treatment

  1. Think about ways to take your medication (e.g. first thing in the morning before breakfast) in order to minimise the impact on your everyday life.
     
  2. If you take regular pills for your osteoporosis, try to take your treatment at the same time each day, week or month.
     
  3. Use a diary to remind yourself to take your medication and collect your prescription, or put a reminder somewhere you will see it frequently.
     
  4. Make a note of the specific actions you need to remember when taking your treatment and keep this somewhere memorable.
    Pill organizer
  5. Be prepared and plan for changes in your routine that will make it more difficult for you to take your medication, such as holidays or special events.
     
  6. Ask your family and friends to support you to stay on treatment. Tell them about your medication and explain to them why it is important for you to avoid broken bones.
     
  7. Speak to your health professional about difficulties you are experiencing. They will be able to give you advice on managing your osteoporosis medication and may be able to suggest other treatment options.
     
  8. Contact your local patient society; they can offer you support and put you in touch with other people who are in a similar situation. 

Treatment checklist

If you have osteoporosis and have stopped taking your treatment, or are thinking about stopping, it is worthwhile considering why you are making your decision. Complete our Patient Checklist to see if any of the common reasons for stopping treatment apply to you.

More adherence Information

Staying Power: Closing The Adherence Gap In Osteoporosis (a 2006 report on osteoporosis treatment adherence)

The Adherence Gap: Why Osteoporosis Patients Don’t Continue With Treatment (a 2005 European report highlighting the gap between the beliefs of people with osteoporosis and the perceptions of their physicians)

References

1. Reginster JY and Rabenda V. Adherence to anti-osteoporotic treatment: Does it really matter? Future Rheumatol. 2006; 1 (1): 37-40
2. Cramer J, Amonkar MM, Hebborn A and Suppapanya N. Does dosing regimen impact persistence with bisphosphonate therapy among postmenopausal osteoporotic women? Journal Bone Mineral Research 2004; 19 Suppl 1: S448
3. Ettinger MP, Gallagher R, Amonkar M, Smith JC, and MacCosbe PE. Medication persistence is improved with less frequent dosing of bisphosphonates, but remains inadequate. Arthritis Rheum. 2004; 50 Suppl 1: S513Weycker D, Macarios D, Edelsberg J, Oster G. Compliance with drug therapy for postmenopausal osteoporosis. Osteoporosis Int 2006
4. Toteston AN, Grove MR, Hammond CS, Moncur MM, Ray GT, Hebert GM, Pressman AR, Ettinger B. Early discontinuation of treatment for osteoporosis. Am J Med 2003 15;115:209-16
5. Sebaldt RJ, Shane LG, Pham B, Cook R, Thabane L, Petrie A,…. Long-term effectiveness outcomes of non-compliance and non-persistence with daily regimen bisphoshonate therapy in patients with osteoporosis treated in tertiary specialist care. Osteoporosis Int 2004;15:S107 [Abstract P391SA]
6. Eastell R, Garnero P, Vrijens L, Van de Langerijt L, Pols HAP, Ringe JD, … Influence of patient compliance with risedronate therapy on bone turnover marker and bone mineral density response: The IMPACT study. Calcif Tissue Int 2003;72:408 [Abstract P297]