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.
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.
The most common symptoms of osteomalacia are pain in the bones and hips, bone fractures, and muscle weakness. Patients can also have difficulty walking.
There are various tests that can be performed to determine if someone has osteomalacia.
Rarely, the doctor may perform a bone biopsy, in which a sample of bone tissue is taken and examined.
Patients who have osteomalacia can take vitamin D, calcium or phosphate supplements, depending on the individual case. For instance, people with intestinal malabsorption (the intestines cannot absorb nutrients or vitamins properly) may need to take larger quantities of vitamin D and calcium.
Other treatments to relieve or correct osteomalacia symptoms may include:
© Copyright 1995-2019 The Cleveland Clinic Foundation. All rights reserved.
This information is provided by the Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider for advice about a specific medical condition. This document was last reviewed on: 08/14/2018