Learn About Osteomalacia

What is the definition of Osteomalacia?

Osteomalacia is softening of the bones. It most often occurs because of a problem with vitamin D, which helps your body absorb calcium. Your body needs calcium to maintain the strength and hardness of your bones.

In children, the condition is called rickets.

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What are the alternative names for Osteomalacia?

Vitamin D deficiency - osteomalacia; Calcium - osteomalacia

What are the causes of Osteomalacia?

A lack of the proper amount of calcium in the blood can lead to weak and soft bones. Low blood calcium can be caused by low vitamin D level in the blood.

Vitamin D is absorbed from food or produced by the skin when exposed to sunlight. Lack of vitamin D produced by the skin may occur in people who:

  • Live in climates with little exposure to sunlight
  • Must stay indoors
  • Work indoors during the daylight hours
  • Wear clothes that cover most of their skin
  • Have dark skin pigmentation
  • Use very strong sunscreen

You may not get enough vitamin D from your diet if you:

  • Are lactose intolerant (have trouble digesting milk products)
  • Do not eat or drink milk products (more common in older adults)
  • Follow a vegetarian diet
  • Are not able to absorb vitamin D well in the intestines, such as after gastric bypass surgery or due to a gastrointestinal disease
Vitamin D deficit

Other conditions that may cause osteomalacia include:

  • Cancer -- rare tumors that cause low phosphate level in the kidney
  • Kidney failure and acidosis
  • Lack of enough phosphates in the diet
  • Liver disease -- the liver cannot convert vitamin D to its active form
  • Side effects of medicines used to treat seizures
What are the symptoms of Osteomalacia?

Symptoms include:

  • Bone fractures that happen without a real injury
  • Muscle weakness
  • Widespread bone pain, especially in the hips

Symptoms may also occur due to low calcium level. These include:

  • Numbness around the mouth
  • Numbness or tingling of the arms and legs
  • Spasms or cramps of the hands or feet
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What are the current treatments for Osteomalacia?

Treatment may involve vitamin D, calcium, and phosphorus supplements taken by mouth. People who cannot absorb nutrients well through the intestines may need larger doses of vitamin D and calcium. This includes people who have some types of weight loss surgery.

People with certain conditions may need regular blood tests to monitor blood levels of phosphorus and calcium.

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What is the outlook (prognosis) for Osteomalacia?

Some people with vitamin deficiency disorders will get better within a few weeks. With treatment, healing should happen within 6 months.

What are the possible complications of Osteomalacia?

Symptoms can return.

When should I contact a medical professional for Osteomalacia?

Contact your health care provider if you have symptoms of osteomalacia, or if you think that you may be at risk for this disorder.

How do I prevent Osteomalacia?

Eating a diet rich in vitamin D and calcium and getting sufficient exposure to sunlight can help prevent osteomalacia due to vitamin D deficiency.

Calcium benefit
What are the latest Osteomalacia Clinical Trials?
Development of a Novel, Safe Method for the Non-invasive Assessment of Human Bone Quality, In Vivo, Using Spatially Offset Raman Spectroscopy

Summary: In this study spatially offset Raman spectroscopy (SORS), which allows the collection of Raman spectra through turbid media, is being applied to collect Raman spectra of bone. The principal aim to find ways to use Raman spectroscopy to assess bone quality in vivo.

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Tumor-induced Osteomalacia Disease Monitoring Program (TIO DMP)

Summary: The objectives of this observational study are to assess the long-term safety and long-term effectiveness of burosumab in patients with TIO who are being treated with burosumab as prescribed by their physician and to monitor the course of the underlying phosphaturic mesenchymal tumor (PMT) overtime in patients with TIO irrespective of their treatment status.

What are the Latest Advances for Osteomalacia?
Tumour-induced osteomalacia due to residual benign glomangioma.
FGF23 tumor induced osteomalacia.
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Tumor-induced osteomalacia caused by an orbital tumor: a case report.
Who are the sources who wrote this article ?

Published Date: April 29, 2022
Published By: Sandeep K. Dhaliwal, MD, board-certified in Diabetes, Endocrinology, and Metabolism, Springfield, VA. Also reviewed by David C. Dugdale, MD, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

What are the references for this article ?

Bhan A, Rao AD, Bhadada SK, Rao SD. Rickets and osteomalacia. In Melmed S, Auchus RJ, Goldfine AB, Koenig RJ, Rosen CJ, eds. Williams Textbook of Endocrinology. 14th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 31.

Chonchol M, Smogorzewski MJ, Stubbs JR, Yu ASL. Disorders of calcium homeostasis. In: Yu ASL, Chertow GM, Luyckx VA, Marsden PA, Skorecki K, Taal MW, eds. Brenner and Rector's The Kidney. 11th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 18.

Demay MB, Krane SM. Disorders of mineralization. In: Jameson JL, De Groot LJ, de Kretser DM, et al, eds. Endocrinology: Adult and Pediatric. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 71.

Weinstein RS. Osteomalacia and rickets. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 26th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 231.