Health: My Story of Male Osteoporosis

The TV ads would suggest osteoporosis is a women's health issue.

However, men get osteoporosis also.

My diagnosis occurred by accident. Recently, had an episode of frozen shoulder. In order to be sure it wasn't something else, the orthopedic MD ordered an x-ray. It confirmed there was no overt structural problem in my shoulder. However, the radiologist commented on osteopenia.

The ball was thrown over to my primary care doctor (PCP) who then ordered a bone density scan.

The scan showed I had osteoporosis thus the PCP referred me over to the geriatrics department where I got blood tests for secondary osteoporosis. All of those tests came back negative and so the geriatrics MD recommended zoledronic acid by intravenous route. This medication is in the bisphosphonate class that is a very common approach to addressing osteoporosis.

Went to the infusion center on a Friday afternoon and got hooked up to an IV and the meds were delivered uneventfully. I was told that some percentage of patients experience flu-like symptoms. There is also a rare complication called osteonecrosis of the jaw.

Shortly after midnight, I felt some muscle aches. The pain grew more intense as Saturday wore on and eventually included a splitting headache. Could barely walk and with the splitting headache could not sleep. By midnight, the pain began to recede. All told the episode lasted about 24 hours.

I reported this to the geriatrics doctor and was told it seems to occur more often in male patients and the second dose is usually better tolerated. However, some patients switch to the oral form of the medication which can cause reflux and other GI distress so either way, there may be issues. I was told there are other medications but they are generally reserved for more serious cases and at this point there isn't warrant to go in that direction. My bone density scan is going to be repeated 2+ years after my first one and my situation will be re-assessed at that time. For now, the recommendation is to stick with zoledronic acid with a decision regarding route to be made later this year.

For more reading:
Data from HORIZON clinical trial of zoledronic acid shown to me by my geriatrics doctor. I was assured by the doctor that other studies show the medication works on men also. Here are some examples: study of the medication on male patients and a review item.