Boys with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy often have weak bones or reduced bone mineral density, caused by decreased mobility, muscle weakness and the use of steroids. This can lead to the weakening and thinning of bones called osteoporosis, and to a greater chance of fractures. Occasionally it can lead to a curvature of the spine called scoliosis.

What drugs are there?

In recent years, children with fragile bones, including DMD boys, have been given bisphosphonate treatments such as zoledronic acid. This is a substance which has been used successfully to treat osteoporosis. It is usually given intravenously, through a drip, and boys tend to have infusions twice or three times a year, depending on the advice of your doctor.

How do they work?

In normal bones, two types of cells work together to create, rebuild and strengthen bones. They're called osteoclasts - which destroy old bones, and osteoblasts - which build new bones. Zoledronic acid helps bring back into balance these two types of cells, by reducing the osteoclasts. These should strengthen the bone and reduce the amount of calcium being lost.

What are the side effects?

Some people may experience side effects when taking these drugs, including flu like symptoms. Discuss the pros and cons of taking them with your doctor.

What other medicines are there?

Supplements may also be prescribed by your doctor to improve bone health. These include Vitamin D and Calcium. 

For further information we recommend this comprehensive guide for families, published by Treat NMD, PPMD, UPPMD & MDA.