Osteomalacia is a condition in which the bones have mineral deficiency or osteoid- a bone protein dysfunction. A person who has this condition has soft bones, or bones that grow in a broad and uneven manner.
Why Does It Occur?
This condition occurs because of the failure of the osteiod to mineralize. Aside from that, lack of calcium, phosphorus and vitamin D leads to this defect. Because the bones lack these essential minerals, the bones becomes soft, and becomes easily brittle.
Who Is At Risk?
This disorder occurs mostly in adults having an unbalanced diet. However, this really occurs in people regardless of age. For children, osteomalacia manifests as rickets.
Symptoms Of Osteomalacia
Manifestation of osteomalacia is almost similar to osteoporosis, however, in most cases, it is asymptomatic. But when the patient is subject to x rays and other tests related to the bone, it would not be very difficult to tell whether or not the patient has such condition.
The first noticeable signs of osteomalacia are: bone pain in the thigh or the lower back that extends to the ribs and to the arms, and bone tenderness. Also, the muscles around the bones which are affected with osteomalacia shows signs of weakness, making it difficult for the patients to execute daily normal activities such as climbing stairs and standing up. In general, the patient will be weak and will be sensitive.
When the disease remains undiagnosed, symptoms will progress to extreme discomfort. Patients will feel a great deal of pain in the affected area and will become very uncomfortable. Even slight pressure on the affected area will cause great pain. Later on, the muscle will become stiff and weak.
Weakness and stiffness in the limbs and muscles become worse, and the patient will be very susceptible to more discomfort. Another sign that a person has Osteomalacia is walking in slow and tilted manner.
In advanced stage of Osteomalacia, patients become prone to fractures as their bones get more fragile each time. Patients as well get easily tired- suffering from chronic fatigue. And because one of the causes of this disorder is the lack of calcium, patients could have numbness in the extremities and in the mouth, as well as arrhythmia, and spasms in the feet and in the hand.
Causes Of Osteomalacia
Most cases, it is blamed on the lack of Vitamin D, which is responsible for the calcium absorption and bone building in the body. Lacking this very essential vitamin will cause the person to have soft bones. It is advised that everyone should have adequate and healthy exposure to the sun to get vitamin D, and also eat or drink Vitamin D rich foods and drinks such as milk and cereal.
Those people who have undergone gastrectomy are prone to Osteomalacia. Aside from that, those who have autoimmune disorders of any kind (e.g. kidney failure, inflammation of the pancreas or chronic pancreatitis, etc) are very prone to having such condition. This is because these diseases becomes an obstacle in the absorption of vitamin D, and any other vitamins that might be essential for bone health.
The doctor first traces the patient’s medical history, and analyzes all the symptoms of Osteomalacia to accurately point out whether or not he has the bone disease. Diet, sun exposure, previous medications and surgeries would also be taken into account. In this investigation, the patient might undergo several tests as well - PTH tests, Calcium ionized and ALP isoenzyme tests, urine and blood tests, as well as the checking of phosphorus, Vitamin D and level of calcium in the body. This is to trace other disorders that might be going along with osteomalacia. The doctor could even opt to subject the patient to an X-ray to check whether there are cracks and other visible breakages in the patient’s bones. To further confirm whether the patient has the disease, he is also subject to biopsy, bone scanning and loose transformation zones.
This will greatly depend on the factors that cause the patient to have this disease. If it is caused by deficiency in Vitamin D, the patient could be exposed further to the sunlight, and advised to take supplements, eat and drink foods rich in calcium, Vitamin D and other essential minerals for the health of the bones. Patients could also have these vitamins and minerals taken intravenously. This goes for both children and adults. However, children could also take calcitrol and phosphate-rich supplements to combat X-lined hypophosphatemic rickets. In advanced cases of Osteomalacia, the patient might be subject to an orthopedic surgery.
When the condition is due to another disease, the underlying disorder should be treated first. Most of the time, Osteomalacia does not progress if the disease that caused it is given prompt medical attention.
All patients should be closely monitored, particularly their calcium and phosphorus levels. They should also be given regular intake of vitamin D to prevent recurrence.
Alfacalcidol, Alsiodol, Calciferol, Calcidol, Calciquid, Drisdol, Ergocalciferol, Posture, Ridactane, Mitotane, Vitamin D, VItamin D2