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 Integrative Medicine: Osteoporosis & Other Physical Changes 

Etidronate Disodium (Didronel)
Didronel has been used to treat women with osteoporosis who are at high risk of developing vertebral fractures and deformity. This drug coats the bone cells and specifically helps to prevent further bone loss in the spine. It has even been found to reverse some of the spinal damage that osteoporosis causes. Etidronate does not appear, however, to reverse damage in the hips, femur and other bones. In addition, some studies indicate that women who took this drug experience a higher rate of fractures than those who did not. However, this drug is continuing to be studied. Etidronate is usually administered daily for two weeks, followed by daily calcium supplementation for ten to twelve weeks. The treatment regimen is repeated every three months.

Other Supportive Measures
Besides the use of HRT and drugs, there are many actions a woman can take to prevent damage to her bones, joints, muscles, skin and hair after menopause. Healthy lifestyle habits can slow down the aging of all these bones and tissues, helping them remain healthy and at peak function. These beneficial measures include the following.

  • Do regular weight bearing exercise, such as walking or weight training, at least thirty minutes per day. This helps keep bones strong and intact and promotes good blood circulation.

  • Practice yoga or other stretching exercises to keep your joints and muscles limber and flexible.

  • Limit cigarette use and alcohol intake.

  • Avoid sun exposure unless you use a high SPF sunscreen (15 or more). The sun causes damage and aging of the skin if protection from its rays is not used regularly.

  • Drink lots of water at least eight glasses per day—to thoroughly hydrate your skin and other tissues.

  • Apply moisturizers to your skin to help lock in the fluid.

  • Lose weight slowly if you diet. Rapid weight loss can accelerate the aging of your skin's appearance.

  • Avoid overprocessing your hair with permanents and other hair care techniques that can cause excessive dryness and splitting of the hair.

  • If you want to have unwanted hair removed, consider electrolysis. This is the only permanent method for hair removal. It is important, however, to work with an experienced and knowledgeable operator. Your health care practitioner can probably recommend an operator in your community.
Structural Components of the Body that Show Menopausal Changes
  • Bones
  • Joints
  • Muscles
  • Skin
  • Hair
Treatment Options for Osteoporosis
  • Hormone replacement therapy
    • Estrogen
    • Progestins
    • Estrogen-progestin combinations
  • Drugs
    • Sodium fluoride
    • Etidronate Disodium (Didronel)
  • General supportive measures
(Excerpted from The Estrogen Decision Self Help Book ISBN: 0890877769)
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 About The Author
Susan Lark MDDr. Susan M. Lark is one of the foremost authorities on women's health issues and is the author of nine books. She has served on the faculty of Stanford University Medical School...more
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