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Osteomalacia - Symptoms, Causes, Treatment, Procedure, Cost, Diet And Side Effects

Last Updated: May 11, 2022

What is Osteomalacia?

Weakening of the bones is referred to as Osteomalacia. It is different from osteoporosis because here the bone is formed but remodelled. In osteomalacia there is a problem in bone formation or the building process of the bone.

Main cause of osteomalacia is due to the low absorption of Vitamin D. Vitamin D is the essential for building the bone structure. Vitamin D is produced when the ultraviolet rays of the sun are absorbed by the skin. Vitamin D is also present in many foods like eggs, fish and diary products and is absorbed by the intestines. Low absorption of Vitamin D in the body may be caused due to problems in the intestine due to infection or surgery or due to problems in diet.

What are the symptoms of Osteomalacia?

Osteomalacia is the condition of weakening of bones that usually occurs due to vitamin D deficiency. It makes the bones soft and prone to fracture. Some of the osteomalacia symptoms associated with the condition may include:

  • Weakness of bones
  • Pain in hips and bones
  • Fracture of the bones
  • Weakness of the muscles
  • Difficult walking
Summary: Osteomalacia signs and symptoms arise mainly due to softening of bones. Bones become weak in this condition, hence the risk of fractures is also increased.

Causes :

Osteomalacia can cause bone fractures, muscle weakness, and bone pain in various parts of the body. In severe cases osteomalacia can cause irregular heartbeats, spasms in hands and feet, numbness in legs, hands, and mouth.

Diagnosis :

Doctors will diagnose osteomalacia by conducting tests for low doses of vitamin D, phosphorus and calcium. High levels of parathyroid hormone also indicates osteomalacia which can be due to vitamin D insufficiency. X-rays and imaging tests can indicate the possibility of fractures. These fractures are in the form of small cracks which are found throughout the body. The cracks is called looser’s transformation zone. Fractures tend to happen in people with osteomalacia even with small injuries.

Bone biopsy is conducted to understand osteomalacia the bone strength of the patients. Generally x-rays and blood tests are sufficient to under osteomalacia.


Treatment :

Treatment for osteomalacia is by taking vitamin D supplements. In cases where the person is suffering from low absorption in the intestines then the person is asked to take a diet low in key nutrients. Patients with cirrhosis and kidney failure are treated for the underlying condition. Exposure to sunlight is essential to increase the levels of vitamin D. In rare cases the patients are given vitamin D intravenously.

Among children, osteomalacia tends to cause bone deformity. In severe cases the children have to wear braces or undergo surgery to correct bone deformity.

Who is eligible for the Osteomalacia treatment?

Any individual suffering from bone diseases like Osteomalacia is eligible for the treatment. Such conditions cannot resolve on their own and need to undergo timely diagnosis followed by treatment.

The treatment involving the application of medicines should be accompanied by the incorporation of foods and supplements rich in vitamin D, calcium, and phosphorus. Ignoring osteomalacia may lead to worsening of the condition and further complications.

Summary: Treatment is necessary in the case of Osteomalacia so as to prevent worsening of the symptoms and related complications. Replenishment of vitamin D in the body is necessary for such conditions.

Who is not eligible for the Osteomalacia treatment?

Each and every individual suffering from bone diseases like Osteomalacia is eligible for the treatment. The condition is caused due to deficiency of vitamin D and hence replenishment of the element is necessary. Treatment with appropriate medicines along with certain dietary and lifestyle changes is the only way to manage such conditions.

Summary: Every person who suffers from Osteomalacia should undergo treatment along with dietary and lifestyle changes. Any ignorance may lead to worsening of the symptoms and further complications.

How to prevent Osteomalacia?

Osteomalacia refers to the weakening or softening of bones, commonly in adults. Vitamin D deficiency leads to such conditions. This disease of bones is possible to be prevented if sufficient intake of vitamin D is ensured.

Osteomalacia prevention can be done in the following ways:

  • Intake of vitamin D-rich food items: Certain foods such as eggs, milk, cheese, bread, fish, etc. are rich sources of vitamin D. Their sufficient intake prevents deficiency of vitamin D.
  • Taking nutritional supplements for vitamin D: In case an individual is not getting enough vitamin D from the diet, vitamin D supplements are advised to be taken so as to prevent the deficiency.
  • Increased exposure to sunlight: An enhanced exposure to sunlight ensures sufficient absorption of vitamin D in the body.
Summary: Vitamin D deficiency is an important reason for Osteomalacia. Such deficiencies may arise from insufficient absorption of vitamin D, hence certain preventive measures need to be followed to prevent such conditions.

Can Osteomalacia go away on its own?

A timely diagnosis followed by treatment is the only way to resolve Osteomalacia. However, it can take several months or years to recover from the symptoms like weakening of bones, bone pain, muscle weakness, cramps, etc.

If it is caused due to vitamin D deficiency, intake of vitamin D supplements on a regular basis is necessary. Calcium supplements also help to speed up the bone healing process. In certain cases, painkillers are also needed to overcome the severe pain symptoms.

Summary: Osteomalacia is a bone disease that needs to be diagnosed and treated as early as possible so as to prevent any complications. The condition needs proper diagnosis and treatment.

What are the Osteomalacia post-treatment guidelines?

The post-treatment guidelines are important in the case of Osteomalacia so as to prevent any recurrence of such conditions. Important post-treatment guidelines that need to be followed mainly include:

  • Regular medical consultation under the supervision of a specialist
  • Periodic follow-ups
  • Always maintaining a healthy diet rich in vitamin D, calcium, and phosphorus
  • Doing physical activities and exercises on a regular basis
  • Maintaining regular exposure to the sunlight
Summary: Osteomalacia may be related to recurrence in certain cases, hence it is important to follow the post-treatment guidelines.

What to eat in Osteomalacia?

Osteomalacia is caused by the deficiency of vitamin D in the body. Such deficiencies may arise due to insufficient intake of vitamin D in the diet or less absorption of the element due to certain factors. Foods are the best way to restore the body with the required levels of vitamins.

Foods to be preferred in such conditions mainly include:

  • Natural food sources of vitamin D: These include oily fishes like salmon, sardines, mackerel, the yolk of eggs, etc.
  • Fortified food sources of vitamin D: These may include milk, cheese, bread, yogurt, cereals, etc.
  • Nutritional supplements: These include supplements for vitamin D as well as calcium. These are preferred when we fail to absorb enough vitamin D from the regular diet and foods we eat.
Summary: Vitamin D deficiency is the main cause of conditions like Osteomalacia. Hence, it is important to take certain food items or supplements rich in vitamin D, so as to prevent their deficiencies.

What not to eat in Osteomalacia?

Osteomalacia is associated with the deficiency of vitamin D in the body. Insufficient intake of food sources rich in vitamin D or inadequate exposure to sunlight may be the root cause of such conditions. Hence, one should take care of the dietary intake.

Foods to be avoided in Osteomalacia mainly include sources low in vitamin D content. Some of them are:

  • Caffeine-rich foods
  • Alcohol
  • Foods rich in high-salt content
  • Red meat
  • Wheat bran and soda
Summary: There are certain food items that are low in vitamin D content. Those should be strictly avoided in Osteomalacia as they can worsen the associated symptoms and may further cause complications.

What are the side effects of Osteomalacia treatments?

Osteomalacia treatment involves the consumption of vitamin D-rich foods and supplements. Excessive consumption of the same may lead to hypercalcemia causing side effects on health. Some important side effects are:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Weakness
  • Frequent urination or polyuria
  • Bone pain
  • Kidney-related problems
Summary: Vitamin D should be taken in a prescribed dosage only. Overdose of it may lead to hypercalcemia causing side effects such as nausea, vomiting, polyuria, kidney problems, etc.

Should I go to urgent care for Osteomalacia?

Osteomalacia does not cause any symptoms in its initial stages. However, with time it progresses and symptoms start to be felt in the form of dull, aching pain affecting the pelvis, hips, lower back, legs, and ribs. The pain is progressive and often gets worse at night.

The pain also increases when the pressure on the bones is increased. The condition leads to decreased muscle strength and severe weakness, causing difficulty in walking. In such conditions, urgent medical care and attention are required.

Summary: Osteomalacia is progressive and leads to severe weakness in muscles and bones. This causes serious symptoms such as difficulty in walking or unbearable pain at night. Such conditions need urgent medical care.

How long does it take to recover from Osteomalacia?

Osteomalacia can be cured with an early diagnosis and appropriate treatment involving the consumption of vitamin D sources on a daily basis.

Intake of supplements rich in calcium and phosphorus along with vitamin D can speed up the recovery process. Noticeable improvements can be noticed within a few weeks of taking essential elements like vitamin D and calcium.

Summary: Complete recovery in case of Osteomalacia usually takes around 6 months. It mainly depends on the consumption of vitamin D, calcium, and phosphorus in our diet or in the form of supplements.

What is the price of Osteomalacia treatment in India?

Diagnosis of Osteomalacia should be followed by a proper treatment plan. The price of treatment of the disease is the cumulative sum of the outpatient department consultation fee, essential diagnostic tests, and procedures, and the expenses related to medications, supplements, and food sources rich in vitamin D, calcium, or phosphorus. This is quite affordable for poor to middle-class people.

Summary: The cost of treatment of Osteomalacia mainly includes OPD consultation fees, diagnostic tests, and the expenses related to prescribed medications and vitamin D-rich food sources and supplements.

Physical Exercises for the people suffering from Osteomalacia:

Physical exercises are beneficial during the recovery process of Osteomalacia. But these should be done after consulting with a doctor or physician. They help to strengthen the muscles and bones, thus reducing the risks of fracture.

They help to improve balance and posture in the affected individual and also relieve the associated symptoms such as bone pain and weakness.

The preferred form of exercises may include:

  • Strength-training exercises
  • Aerobics, especially weight-bearing aerobic exercises
  • Exercises for increasing the flexibility
  • Exercises to maintain balance and posture
Summary: Physical exercises help in a faster recovery process in conditions like Osteomalacia. These help to strengthen the bones and muscles, thus minimizing the symptoms such as bone pain or weakness.

Which is the best medicine for Osteomalacia?

Osteomalacia is mainly caused due to deficiency of vitamin D, calcium, or phosphorus in our body. Hence, the treatment involves replenishment of the same. Important medicines prescribed in such conditions include:

  • Ergocalciferol
  • Calciferol
  • Calcidol
  • Drisdol
  • Calcium lactate
Summary: Certain medications are important in the treatment of Osteomalacia as this help to replenish sufficient levels of vitamin D, calcium, and phosphorus in our body.

Are the results of the Osteomalacia treatment permanent?

In most cases of Osteomalacia, the condition is cured with certain medications and the incorporation of food items or supplements rich in vitamin D, calcium, or phosphorus. The results are permanent in such cases.

But sometimes, recurrence of Osteomalacia also occurs due to a drop in vitamin D levels of the body as a result of decreased intake of the same.

Summary: The results of the treatment are permanent in most cases of Osteomalacia. But recurrence can also take place in certain cases as a result of decreased intake of vitamin d sources.

What are the alternatives to the Osteomalacia treatment?

The treatment of Osteomalacia is done by application of certain medications such as ergocalciferol, calciferol, calcidiol, etc. which help to replenish vitamin D in the body. Alternatives to the treatment mainly include lifestyle and diet changes such as:

  • Incorporation of food sources rich in vitamin d, calcium, and phosphorus - These food items include oily fish, milk, cheese, bread, fortified cereals, etc.
  • Increased exposure to sunlight - Sunlight helps in the formation of vitamin D in the body, thus it is essential.
  • Physical activities and exercises - Exercises are beneficial in such conditions as they strengthen bone and muscles and relieve symptoms.
Summary: There are certain alternatives to the treatment of Osteomalacia including lifestyle changes and dietary modifications. Increased intake of vitamin D-rich sources, as well as more exposure to sunlight, are some of the ways.


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Written ByDr. Kailash Kothari MD - Anaesthesiology,MBBSOrthopaedics
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