Bisphosphonates (e.g. aledronate, risedronate, zoledronic acid) are commonly used for the prevention and treatment of osteopenia and osteoporosis. They slow or stop the natural process that dissolves bone tissue, resulting in maintained or increased bone density and strength. Studies show that bisphosphonates increase bone thickness and lower the risk of fractures, which may prevent the development of osteoporosis. If osteoporosis already has developed, slowing the rate of bone thinning reduces the risk of broken bones.
They can cause nausea, abdominal pain, heartburn and irritation of the tube that connects the throat to the stomach (oesophagus). These side effects can usually be avoided by following instructions for taking your medicine.
Tell your doctor if you notice any new or increasing problems with swallowing. Problems could include feeling pain when you swallow or feeling like you have a lump or sore in your throat.
Serious problems with bone healing, particularly after dental surgery, have been found in some people taking bisphosphonates. If you are taking bisphosphonates and need dental surgery, talk with your doctor.
If you are taking bisphosphonates, your doctor may also recommend that you take calcium and vitamin D supplements.
Sometimes there can be headaches and joint and muscle pain.