Osteomalacia is a condition when the bones become soft. This condition occurs due to a lack of vitamin D, calcium, or phosphorus, which are needed to maintain bone density.

Osteomalacia is different from rickets . Osteomalacia occurs in adults whose bones have not developed. While rickets occurs in children whose bone structure is still growing. However, both of these conditions result from the same process, namely a lack of vitamin D.

Causes of Osteomalacia

The main cause of osteomalacia is a deficiency of vitamin D. In fact, this mineral is important to help absorb calcium into the bones. Osteomalacia is also caused by kidney disorders so that the body loses phosphorus which is important for bones.

In addition to the causes above, osteomalacia is caused by the following conditions:

  • Lack of sun exposure
  • Use of anticonvulsant drugs
  • Obesity
  • Liver disease
  • Celiac disease
  • History of medical procedures, such as surgical removal of part or all of the stomach (gastrectomy)

Symptoms of Osteomalacia

Patients with osteomalacia in the early stages do not always show symptoms. However, over time, people with osteomalacia can experience various complaints, such as:

  • Fracture without injury
  • Tingling in the arms or legs
  • Cramps in the hands or feet
  • Bone pain
  • Weak muscles
  • Easily tired
  • Difficulty standing or climbing stairs
  • Walk with unsteady steps

When to see a doctor

Immediately consult a doctor if you experience severe pain in the bones. Also have it checked if you have a broken bone due to something unnatural, for example being hit by the edge of the bed. The doctor will determine the diagnosis and provide the right treatment for you.

Diagnosis of Osteomalacia

To diagnose osteomalacia, the doctor will conduct questions and answers about the patient's symptoms and medical history, accompanied by further examinations. Some of these follow-up checks are:

  • X-rays, to detect cracks or broken bones
  • Bone mineral density , to assess bone mineral density through the amount of calcium and phosphate
  • Blood tests , to measure levels of vitamin D, calcium, phosphorus, and parathyroid hormone which can affect calcium levels
  • Bone biopsy, detecting the cause of osteomalacia from bone samples examined in the laboratory

Osteomalacia Treatment

Treatment of osteomalacia aims to meet the needs of vitamin D, calcium, and phosphorus. There are various methods of handling, as described below:

Bask in the sun

The first way that is recommended for people with osteomalacia is to regularly bask in the sun. In this way, the body can produce enough vitamin D.

Keep in mind that the recommended length of sunbathing is 5–10 minutes. Sufferers are also advised to use sunscreen before sunbathing to protect the skin from burns or sunburn .

Improve diet

Doctors can advise patients to improve their diet, namely by eating foods rich in vitamin D, such as fish, eggs, liver and cheese. Patients will also be advised to eat high-calcium foods , such as spinach, sardines and soybeans.

Taking supplements

If the above treatments are ineffective, your doctor may prescribe vitamin D, calcium or phosphorus supplements. These supplements can be consumed daily or weekly.

In addition to the methods above, the doctor will recommend installing a brace or surgery for patients who have fractures or bone deformities.

If the patient has a disease that causes a lack of vitamin D, calcium, or phosphorus, the doctor will also treat that disease.

Osteomalacia Complications

Osteomalacia that is not treated properly has the potential to cause complications in the form of broken bones, including in the ribs, spine and legs.

Prevention of Osteomalacia

Osteomalacia can be prevented by meeting the needs of vitamin D. Vitamin D can be obtained by consuming more foods that contain vitamin D , such as eggs, sea fish, milk, and mushrooms.

If needed, you can take supplements to meet your vitamin D and calcium needs. It is important to remember, before taking supplements, you should first consult with your doctor.

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