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Bone medication linked to fractures

Q: I have had problems with Reclast. Last June, I broke my right femur, and then five weeks later my left femur fractured. The doctors said this was because of Reclast, which had been given as an annual infusion over a five-year period of time.

Three weeks ago, I had to have the screw from my femur implant removed, since my right femur was not healing completely. I believe this problem also was due to Reclast. What is being done to let the public know about the dangers of osteoporosis medications?

A: When drugs to treat osteoporosis were initially associated with osteonecrosis of the jaw (jawbone death) more than a decade ago, many health professionals found it hard to believe. Doctors were even more skeptical when reports surfaced suggesting that people taking bisphosphonates like alendronate (Fosamax), ibandronate (Boniva) and risedronate (Actonel) were at increased risk for broken thighbones (atypical femur fractures). How, they wondered, could drugs intended to prevent fractures actually cause serious bone problems?

The drug you were taking, zoledronic acid (Reclast), also is a bisphosphonate. Like the others, it, too, has been linked to unusual femur fractures. Once someone has broken a thighbone in this way, there is a higher risk that the other femur may break (International Orthopaedics, June 2014). Healing also may be impaired (Annals of the Royal College of Surgeons of England, July 2015).

Investigators point out that such complications are relatively rare. As you have discovered, however, they can be devastating if they occur.

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Q: I’m 48 and never had an experience with lice until now. My 7-year-old daughter was sent home from school with lice today.

I called a friend who told me about the Listerine treatment. Man, did it kill those little buggers dead! My wife was picking dead bugs out of my daughter’s hair.

We will do another treatment in a couple of days to make sure the lice are all dead. We used about four or five capfuls, enough to soak her hair.

A: We first heard about using old-fashioned amber Listerine against lice more than 15 years ago. A nurse told us that the secret ingredient in the mouthwash is the alcohol, which suffocates lice fast.

To treat lice, people often soak their scalps with Listerine, wrap damp hair up in a towel for half an hour and then rinse the Listerine and lice away. Repeating the process every five to six days will kill emerging lice as they hatch.

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Q: I got a heart stent five years ago and currently take atorvastatin (80 mg), carvedilol, ramipril and aspirin.

I have now developed joint pain in my knees and a shoulder. I have taken Celebrex, Tylenol and ibuprofen, with no success.

I have tried Aleve, and it works great. Is it safe to add to my other medications?

A: Naproxen (Aleve) is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) like ibuprofen or celecoxib (Celebrex). All of these drugs pose a risk for the heart (Current Cardiology Reports, March 2016). Since you have heart disease, you may want to consider a different approach to alleviating your joint pain. We are sending you our Guide to Alternatives for Arthritis with a discussion of prescription medications like salsalate as well as home remedies such as ginger, boswellia, turmeric, cherry and grape juice, as well as gin-soaked raisins. Anyone who would like a copy, please send $3 in check or money order with a long (No. 10), stamped (71 cents), self-addressed envelope to: Graedons’ People’s Pharmacy, No. AA-2, P.O. Box 52027, Durham, NC 27717-2027. It also can be downloaded for $2 from our website: peoplespharmacy.com.

In their column, Joe and Teresa Graedon answer letters from readers. Write to them via their website: PeoplesPharmacy.com. Their newest book is “Top Screwups Doctors Make and How to Avoid Them.”