Osteomalacia symptoms

Osteomalacia is a condition where there is softening of the bones which is caused by defective bone mineralization. In children this condition is called rickets. Adults can get a milder form of this disease, called osteomalacia. Vitamin D deficiency due to lack of sunlight exposure is the most common cause of osteomalacia and rickets. It can also be caused by a disorder that interferes with the absorption of vitamin D in the digestive tract. Also, not eating a diet containing adequate amounts of vitamin D such as in fish or vitamin D fortified foods can cause this condition. Because of osteomalacia the bones begin to bow or fracture due to softening. People who have osteomalacia do not have sufficient calcium levels to grow and maintain healthy bones. Vitamin D is necessary for the absorption of calcium.

These days the use of sunscreen is on the rise which can interfere with vitamin D production in the skin which is the normal result of exposure to sunlight. People who live in areas where there is heavy smog can also be at risk for developing osteomacia since smog can block out some of the sunlight. Certain medical conditions can cause this condition as well such as cancer, kidney failure, liver disease, phosphate depletion. Some medications used to treat seizures can have osteomalacia as a side effect.

Osteomalacia symptoms are similar to the symptoms one experiences when they have osteoporosis. Bone pain in the hips and other bones is common. Muscle weakness and bone fractures are common symptoms as well. Due to low calcium levels, osteomalacia symptoms in adults can also cause numbness around the mouth, arms and legs and spasms in the feet and hands. The person may also experience heart rhythm irregularities which can be dangerous and even life threatening. However, the major osteomalacia symptoms are aching bones and muscle weakness. Children who have osteomalacia, which is also known as rickets, often are bowlegged, have malformed teeth, malformed ribcages and pelvic and spin deformities. These children usually grow up to be less than five feet tall.

Osteomalacia symptoms are not commonly found in people who live in the United States. Dairy products in the diet that are fortified with vitamin D help to ensure the proper absorption of calcium in the bones so that not many people living in the U.S. experience osteomalacia symptoms. People who are at highest risk of suffering from osteomalacia symptoms in the United States are the elderly, people who are lactose intolerant and those who use strong sunscreen every day. The elderly usually do not get out in the sunlight enough every day. People who are lactose intolerant do not eat enough vitamin D fortified dairy products and foods like fish to prevent osteomalacia symptoms from appearing. Using sunscreen can block out the beneficial rays from sunlight that causes the skin to produce sufficient amounts of vitamin D.

When a person has symptoms of osteomalacia they should go to their medical doctor for a thorough medical exam. The doctor will take a family history and talk to the patient about they symptoms they are experiencing. A blood test can be done to measure the level of vitamin D, calcium and phosphate that is in the blood. A low calcium level in the blood is called hypocalcemia which occurs because of a lack of vitamin D. A bone density scan (DXA) is usually done to measure bone loss and to determine bone fractures and bone softening. For a definitive diagnosis a bone biopsy must be done. The bone biopsy will also include examining the tissue under a microscope. If a diagnosis of osteomalacia is made the common treatment is to increase vitamin D levels with supplements, improved diet and daily sun exposure.

Last updated on Feb 2nd, 2011 and filed under Musculoskeletal Disorders. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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