What is osteomalacia?

Osteomalacia means "soft bones." Osteomalacia is a disease that weakens bones and can cause them to break more easily. It is a disorder of decreased mineralization, which results in bone breaking down faster than it can re-form. It is a condition that occurs in adults. In children, inadequate concentrations of vitamin D may cause rickets.

What causes osteomalacia?

Osteomalacia develops most commonly due to lack of vitamin D (often from not getting enough sunlight), or less frequently, due to a digestive or kidney disorder. Vitamin D is essential for calcium absorption and for maintaining bone health. These disorders can interfere with the body's ability to absorb vitamins. There are also rare genetic conditions that can cause osteomalacia.

What are the symptoms of osteomalacia?

The most common symptoms of osteomalacia are pain in the bones and hips, bone fractures, and muscle weakness. Patients can also have difficulty walking.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 08/14/2018.

References

  • Lorenzo JA, Canalis E, Raisz LG. Metabolic bone disease. In: Melmed S, Polonsky KS, Larsen PR, Kronenberg HM, eds. Williams Textbook of Endocrinology. 12th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 29.
  • Bhan A, Rao AD, Rao DS. Osteomalacia as a Result of Vitamin D Deficiency. Endocrinol Metab Clin North Am. 2010;39(2):321.
  • Office of Dietary Supplements - National Institutes of Health. Retrieved August 4, 2012. Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet: Vitamin D. (2011, June 24). Accessed 10/3/2018.
  • Lee, JY, So, Tsz-Yin, Thackray, J. A Review of Vitamin D Deficiency. J Pediatr Pharmacol Ther 2013 Oct-Dec; 18(4): 277–291.

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