Sign up for email updates


Back Pain & Osteoporosis
Coronary Heart Disease
Depression & Anxiety
Digestive Disorders
Heart Attack Prevention
Hypertension & Stroke
Lung Disorders
Nutrition & Weight Control
Prostate Disorders

Back Pain & Osteoporosis


Risedronate Sodium

Brand Name: Actonel
Drug Class: Bisphosphonate inhibitor of bone resorption
Available in: Tablets
Available OTC? No
As Generic? No

Side Effects

Serious: Serious side effects are rare and may include chest pain, swelling of the arms, legs, face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Common: Flu-like symptoms, diarrhea, abdominal pain, nausea, constipation, joint pain, headache, dizziness, skin rash.

Less Common: Weakness, growth of tumors, belching, bone pain, leg cramps, muscle weakness, bronchitis, sinus infection, ringing in the ears, dry eye.

Principal Uses

To treat and prevent osteoporosis in postmenopausal women. Also used to prevent and treat steroid-induced osteoporosis in men and women who are either beginning or continuing treatment with steroids (such as prednisone) for chronic diseases. To treat Paget’s disease, a disorder characterized by rapid breakdown and reformation of bone, which can lead to fragility and malformation of bones.

How the Drug Works

Healthy bones are continuously remodeled (broken down and then reformed); the minerals and other components of bones are reabsorbed by one set of cells (osteoclasts) and replaced by another set of cells to form new bone. Risedronate suppresses the activity of osteoclasts; consequently, the breakdown of bone tissue occurs more slowly than the laying down of new bone. As a result, bone density and strength are preserved.


For treatment and prevention of osteoporosis (postmenopausal and steroid-induced): 5 mg a day. For Paget’s disease: 30 mg once a day for 2 months.

Onset of Effect


Duration of Action


Dietary Advice

Take it with a full glass of plain water. Taking risedronate with food or beverages (including mineral water) other than plain water is likely to reduce the absorption of the drug from the intestine. Take the tablets at least 30 minutes before the first food or drink of the day (other than plain water). The drug must be taken in an upright position. Maintain adequate vitamin D and calcium intake; however, vitamin or mineral supplements should be taken no sooner than 2 hours after taking the drug.


Store in a tightly sealed container away from heat, moisture, and direct light.

If You Miss a Dose

If you miss a dose on one day, do not double the dose the next day. Resume your regular dosage schedule.

Stopping the Drug

Take it as prescribed for the full treatment period. The decision to stop taking the drug should be made in consultation with your physician.

Prolonged Use

For Paget’s disease: Risedronate is generally prescribed for a 2-month course of therapy. A second round of treatment may be considered after this 2 month period. Consult your doctor.


Over 60: No special problems are expected.

Driving and Hazardous Work: Do not drive or engage in hazardous work until you determine how the medicine affects you.

Alcohol: No special precautions are necessary.

Pregnancy: Consult your doctor about whether the benefits of taking the medicine outweigh the potential risks to the unborn child.

Breast Feeding: Risedronate may pass into breast milk; caution is advised. Consult your doctor for specific advice.

Infants and Children: Safety and effectiveness have not been established for children under age 18.

Special Concerns: Remain upright for at least 30 minutes after taking this medication. If you develop symptoms of esophageal disease (such as difficulty or pain when swallowing; chest pain, specifically behind the sternum; or severe or persistent heartburn), contact your doctor before continuing risedronate.


Symptoms: No cases of overdose have been reported.

What to Do: If someone takes a much larger dose than prescribed, call your doctor, emergency medical services (EMS), or a poison control center.

Drug Interactions

Aluminum-, calcium-, or magnesium-containing antacids, if needed, should be taken no sooner than 2 hours after taking risedronate.

Food Interactions

No known food interactions, although risedronate works best when taken on an empty stomach.

Disease Interactions

Kidney impairment or a gastrointestinal disease may increase the risk of side effects. Low blood calcium levels and vitamin D deficiency must be treated before using risedronate.

From The Johns Hopkins Consumer Guide to Drugs. You can order this book now on our secure server.



Buy now

Back Pain & Osteoporosis

The Back Pain and Osteoporosis White Paper from The Johns Hopkins White Papers series is an annual, in-depth report written by Hopkins physicians.

Buy now

Johns Hopkins Consumer Guide to Drugs

Find out everything you need to know about medications for arthritis and other conditions in The Johns Hopkins Consumer Guide to Drugs.


    Contact us 
    © 2005 Medletter Associates, Inc.