Description, Causes and Risk Factors:

ICD-10: M83.8

Alternative Names: Rachitis tarda, adult rickets, late rickets.

Osteomalacia is a condition leading to softening of the bones due to defective deposition of minerals, especially calcium. Another term of osteomalacia is a soft bone. The disease is similar to rickets, only on this disease is not found abnormalities in the epiphyseal plates (where bone growth in children) because the adults are no longer found epiphyseal plates.

This condition affects bones and muscles. It only occurs in adults. The bones become soft and prone to pain and fractures. It occurs when there is inadequate or defective bone mineralization. This means that the bones are not hardened by mineral containing calcium and phosphate.

It is mainly caused by the lack of vitamin D which is obtained from sunlight. The causes of Osteomalacia include insufficient exposure to sunlight, faulty diet lacking sufficient quantities of vitamin D and calcium, faulty metabolism of vitamin D, certain diseases of the kidney and the intestine and intake of certain drugs for tuberculosis, asthma and epilepsy.

The requirements of vitamin D and calcium are especially high during childhood, pregnancy, lactation and after menopause. Inadequate supplementation may lead to Osteomalacia.

Other possible risk factors of osteomalacia:

    Hereditary vitamin D metabolism disorders.

  • Kidney failure.

  • Mineral deficiency.

  • Celiac disease.

  • Crohn's disease.

  • Liver diseases.


General symptoms may include:

    Painful bones, particularly the hip bones.

  • Very easily fractured bones.

  • Weakness of muscles or loss of muscle strength.

If condition is severe symptoms may include:

    Extensive swelling.

  • Inability to move a body part.

  • Numbness or coldness in the area of the fracture.

  • Severe discomfort or pain.

  • Visible deformity of the affected bone or joint.


    Weight loss.

  • Anorexia.

  • Muscle weakness, causing difficulty to climb stairs.

  • Bone pain that is felt to spread, especially in the waist area and thighs.

  • Changes in shape to the spine and limbs (arms and legs).


Osteomalacia can be diagnosed by x-ray and with a blood test that will measure levels of calcium, phosphorus and vitamin D. A blood test can also be measured for alkaline phosphatase and parathyroid hormone levels.


The treatment approach for osteomalacia depends on treating the underlying cause of the condition. Treatment will include returning vitamin D and possibly calcium or phosphorous to normal levels in your body. The usual treatment is to take vitamin D supplements. This is a form of vitamin D called ergocalciferol or calciferol.

Administering supplements will help to replenish these substances until balance is restored. For individuals who have vitamin D deficiency disorders, therapy will last longer than for those who have nutritional deficiencies in vitamin D.

Doses of vitamin D or calcium which are too high can raise calcium levels in the blood. This would cause symptoms such as thirst, passing a lot of urine, reduced appetite, nausea or vomiting, dizziness, and headaches. If you have these symptoms you should see your GP promptly, so that your calcium level can be checked with a blood test.

You may be able to lower your risk of osteomalacia by:

    Consuming recommended amounts of milk and dairy products.

  • Quitting or not starting smoking.

  • Receiving enough sun exposure.

  • Taking calcium supplements if recommended by your healthcare provider.

  • Taking vitamin D supplements if recommended by your healthcare provider.

NOTE: The above information is educational purpose. The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition.

DISCLAIMER: This information should not substitute for seeking responsible, professional medical care.


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