Risedronate sodium, also known as Actonel, risedronic acid or more simply as risedronate. It is a medication patients can take to increase bone density and prevent breakdown of bone over time. A doctor may prescribe it to a patient with osteoporosis, and it can also be part of the treatment for Paget’s disease of bone. It is also sometimes recommended for treating Paget’s disease of bone, which results in errors in the way new bone is formed.
This medication interferes with the resorption of bone, slowing the rate of bone breakdown. Patients can take a tablet daily or once a week, with the weekly dose being higher. Risedronate sodium is not recommended in patients with low blood calcium, as the slowdown of bone breakdown will result in even less available calcium for the body. It may be necessary to take calcium or vitamin D supplements while on the medication to make sure the body has enough nutrition. With fewer osteoclasts present, less bone matter is destroyed and bones may retain a certain level of integrity. There is much higher risk of damage to the esophagus if this position is not maintained. A single pill can cause damage to the stomach or esophagus if not properly digested.
There are different types of bisphosphonates. Actonel is an easy one to take because it is orally administered. It does have very special instructions and must be taken when a person will be sitting upright for at least half-an-hour after taking it. It also can’t be combined with meals or many other medications. Dosage may vary too, depending on the person, and some people use this drug once weekly, while others use it daily.
If risedronate sodium is not suitable for a patient, other medications to improve bone density are available. The doctor can prescribe an alternative and see if the medication meets the needs of the patient. Patients may also combine their medication with activities like swimming and gentle exercise to build up bone mass and muscle strength, useful for preventing fractures.
For most people, osteonecrosis of the jaw will not occur, but there are mild side effects that may affect those who take Actonel. Some may experience some stomach upset, particularly flatulence, constipation, diarrhea, or acid indigestion. Others have a small amount of back pain or arthritic-like pain in the joints, while others experience headache. These are considered mild, but if they continue, reporting them to a doctor could be of use. There are other bisphosphonates that a person might tolerate better.