Osteomalacia is the condition when your bones soften due to deficiency of Vitamin D. These soft bones get prone to bow and fracture in comparison to harder and healthy bones. Many people think Osteomalacia and Osteoporosis is the same thing; but the basic cause of Osteoporosis is different.
Osteoporosis occurs due to previously occurred weak bones and Osteomalacia happens because of the defects during the bone-building process. If left untreated, this bone disease of Osteomalacia can lead to multiple broken bones and severe physical injury. The preliminary step would be increasing vitamin D, phosphorus and calcium in your diet once diagnosis is done. Combined medications and diet shows improvements within 2 weeks but complete healing of the bones will take around six months.
Symptoms of Osteomalacia
- Aching bones and muscle weakness are the major symptoms of Osteomalacia.
- Bones get prone to fracture very easily.
- Walking becomes difficult and you might develop a waddling gait eventually.
- Extreme pain at the hips, lower back, ribs, legs, and pelvic region is experienced.
- If Calcium levels have also deteriorated, irregular heart rhythms would be occurring. Numbness around the mouth, along the arms and legs are also common. You might feel spasms in your hands and feet.
How Is Osteomalacia Diagnosed?
- You will have to undergo blood tests initially to check for low levels of vitamin D, phosphorus and calcium, in your bloodstream. Apart from this, you will also have to get a test done for alkaline phosphatase isozymes. If the figures are very high from normal levels, then you are having Osteomalacia. One more blood test is done to check the levels of parathyroid hormone, higher than normal levels indicate insufficient vitamin D and other bone related disorders.
- The doctor can also recommend X-rays and other imaging tests to see if any small cracks in the bones have occurred in your body. These cracks due to Osteomalacia are called Looser’s transformation zones and these fractures can happen even with small injuries.
- A bone biopsy may be required to confirm Osteomalacia. However, in majority of cases X-ray and blood tests are enough to diagnose and confirm.
Treatment of Osteomalacia
The initial treatment starts with the intake of oral supplements for vitamin D, calcium, or phosphate. Often some patients are seen to have difficulties in digesting these supplements due to intestinal injury or surgery. During the treatment process the diet also has to be made rich by including all the key nutrients. Some rare cases also need vitamin D injections. Osteomalacia patients are also advised to spend few hours outdoors in sunlight to get sufficient vitamin D through skin.
The underlying health conditions that occur due to the presence of Osteomalacia also need to be treated. For example, most common is liver cirrhosis and kidney failure, which must be treated immediately to bring the symptoms of Osteomalacia in control.
Children are often suggested to wear braces or have surgery for bone deformation correction in severe cases of rickets or Osteomalacia.