Telemedicine for Osteoporosis Treatment: A Good Way to Optimize Skeletal Health
Williams recommends a telehealth visit if you were due for a follow-up visit with your physician concerning your bone health. “Don’t miss an opportunity to optimize your own skeletal health. Telemedicine visits can be conducted by telephone — no cell phone required — as well as via video-conferencing platforms, so please don’t let the concern of using unfamiliar technology prevent you from reaching out to your physician,” she says.
At the Cleveland Clinic, where Williams practices, providers use virtual visits to provide guidance on continuing a calcium-rich diet or calcium or vitamin D supplements, getting routine exercise, and keeping track of their last treatment.
“At our clinic, we have strongly encouraged patients to start coming in, since the restriction on in-person visits has been lifted, and we are prioritizing those patients who had to cancel their appointments for their last injection,” says Williams. Restrictions on these visits may vary from state to state.
What to Know if You’re Switched From an Injectable to an Oral Therapy
If you’ve been on an injection for osteoporosis treatment and are switched to an oral therapy, there are a few things to keep in mind, says Williams.
Make sure you’re clear on how often the medication is to be taken. Some are dosed once weekly; some are once a month.
The medication needs to be taken first thing in the morning, on an empty stomach, with a full glass of water — not coffee, tea, milk, or juice. You must then wait at least 30 minutes before taking other medications or having anything to eat or drink other than water.
It’s recommended that you stay upright after taking the medication (in other words, don’t go back to bed); if the pill remains in contact with the wall of the esophagus or stomach, it potentially could cause significant irritation.
Once in-person visits are possible and a person who was switched to an oral osteoporosis therapy is switched back to an injection, will there be any increased risks or impact on efficacy? The long-term impact is unknown, as we are in unchartered territory due to the pandemic, according to Williams. “But we know that the oral drugs help to preserve bone mass and bone strength, and it is safe to resume the injectable drugs,” she says.