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What is Strontium Ranelate?

By Jennifer Long
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Strontium ranelate comes from ranelic acid and is used as an osteoporosis medication in post-menopausal women. It is classified as a dual action bone agent (DABA). DABA medicines have two ways they work with osteoporosis sufferers and the bones. They prevent the continued destruction of existing bone tissue, and also help aid in the growth of new bone tissue, which can help prevent fractures and breaks.

Osteoporosis is a condition that causes the bones to become more porous and brittle. Bones are not as strong in people who suffer from this condition, and they can be fractured or broken easily. While the damage from these injuries can heal, osteoporosis treatment is necessary for both bone protection and to aid in reversing the effects of osteoporosis. Strontium ranelate combats osteoporosis while also working to prevent bone fractures.

There are two cells found in bone tissue that are affected by osteoporosis. Osteoblasts are bone cells that build and shape bones, while osteoclasts are bone cells that break down bone tissue. Throughout a human’s life, osteoblasts manage to build more bone than the osteoclasts can destroy, which is how children grow. During adulthood, osteoblasts have trouble matching the activity of the osteoclasts. This gradually leads to osteoporosis.

Strontium ranelate is often prescribed for women who are at a higher risk of developing a specific category of fractures, called fragility fractures, which occur as a direct effect of osteoporosis. The increase of osteoclasts and decrease of osteoblasts are switched around so that osteoblasts can work to create new bone and repair damaged sections without as much interference from the osteoclasts.

Similar to many other medications used to treat osteoporosis, strontium ranelate is used on a long term basis. It has a few common side effects including diarrhea, headaches, and nausea. These side effects generally lessen in intensity and subside in about three months as the body adjusts. If side effects worsen or do not subside, the prescribing physician may decide to adjust the dosage amount or change the medication completely.

Standard dosing is one tablet per day, with a dosage amount that varies depending on each individual and case of osteoporosis. Tablets should be taken either two hours before or after eating. Women who have not reached menopause should not take strontium ranelate. Additionally, treatment with this medication cannot be stopped and started again at a later time, and at that point would not be an effective treatment.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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