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Are There Any Treatments to Reverse or Stop Bone Loss?



I am a 40 year old female recently diagnosed with osteopenia, most likely as a result of 15 years of inhaled corticosteroid use for asthma. (My t score is -.9, but one of my vertebrae was -2.0)

I am caucasian, have a large build, no family history of the disease, eat a healthy, mostly vegetarian diet, take the proper calcium/vitamin D supplements and exercise regularly.

If I am doing everything I can to diet, exercise, and supplement-wise and given the fact that I need to remain on my inhaled steroids for asthma control, is there anything else I can do to either stop or reverse my bone loss?

Also, is the assumption that the inhalers caused this an issue? Is there a test to see if my body is actually absorbing calcium correctly, or is this irrelevant?



Having to chronically use corticosteroids is a reason to use a bisphosphonate (e.g., Actonel, Boniva, Fosamax) to protect your bone.  In general, we do not use one vertebra to make the diagnosis.  It is preferable to use the T-score for L1-4 together.  T-scores were designed for postmenopausal women.  Check your Z-score which compares you to women your age if you are premenopausal.  If you are postmenopausal and not on estrogen, that would be another reason to consider treatment.  If your bone density has been stable, you may not need to use drugs immediately, but could keep and eye on your bone density. 

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Response by:

Margery   Gass, MD Margery Gass, MD
Formely, Professor, Clinical Obstetrics & Gynecology
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati