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Last Updated: Jun 13, 2020
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Rickets - Causes Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatments

About Vitamin deficiency Symptoms Causes Diagnosis Treatment Risk factors Heal Cure Cost Prevention

What is Rickets?

Rickets is a condition when the bones become soft and brittle. The most common causes of this disease are lack of Vitamin D and less intake of calcium by children. In other words, malnutrition plays a major role in the damage of the bones.

Genetic conditions can also be another reason for this disease. Children are mainly affected but sometimes adults are also get affected and the condition is called osteomalacia. Along with weak bones, there is also stunted growth and skeletal deformities in the person.

Which vitamin deficiency causes rickets?

The deficiency of Vitamin D causes rickets because of this, absorption of calcium from the intestine stops which leads to the deficiency of calcium in the body. Vitamin D is necessary for absorption of calcium and phosphates from the intestine. It is mainly produced in the body when a person is exposed to sunlight. Other sources of Vitamin D are fish, eggs, and milk. Insufficiency of Vitamin D causes low levels of calcium and phosphate in the body. This results in soft and disfigured bones.

What are the signs and symptoms of rickets?

These are the following symptoms of rickets:

Bone tenderness or bone pain, low level of calcium in the body and blood, Skull softness, knock knees, easy breaking of bones, widening up of wrists, bowed legs of small children, delay in the motor skills, weak muscles, pain in the pelvis, legs and spine, and problems with absorption in the body.

What are the causes of rickets?

These are the several causes of rickets:

  • Lack of Vitamin D in the body: Our body needs Vitamin D so that the calcium from the intestines can be absorbed and if the persons lack Vitamin D, there is always a lack of calcium in the body. Calcium is not properly absorbed from the food items, causing a low level of calcium in the blood. Low calcium levels in the body result in the deformities of bones and teeth. Therefore Vitamin D must be added in diet and food like eggs, fish oils, oily fish like salmon and mackerel, soy milk products, margarine.
  • Genetic defects: Rickets can also be caused by a genetic disorder like Hypophosphatemic rickets, which does not allow the kidney to process proper phosphates. The low level of phosphate is another cause of fragile bones.

How is rickets diagnosed?

While diagnosing rickets doctors gently press the bones of the child to check if there is any abnormality. Tests like x-ray, blood tests and arterial blood gases test are used to determine the levels of calcium, phosphate and check for any skeletal abnormalities in the body. Every part of the child’s body will be paid attention to such as:

  • Skull: Skulls of the babies will be pressed as the babies with rickets have softer skull bones
  • Legs: Some of the healthy toddlers have the problems of bowlegs and if the problems exaggerate then it is the problem of rickets.
  • Chest: Sometimes children who have rickets develop abnormalities in their rib cage. In this case, the rib cage flattens and causes the protrusion of breastbone.
  • Ankles and wrists: Children who suffer from rickets have larger or thicker wrists and ankles than the normal.

How is rickets treated?

The most common medication for rickets is the intake of Vitamin D or taking calcium supplements. But both things need to be taken after the prescription of a doctor as too much intake of Vitamin D is dangerous. The condition of the child is first examined by x-ray and blood test. If the child has a low amount of phosphorus in the body or any rare inherited disorder, the medication is prescribed by the doctor according to the situation.

Who is at risk for developing rickets?

Normally, children are at a high risk of developing rickets since they are at a growing age. It is also because children do not get the proper amount of sunlight and do not follow a diet that is full of nutrition. Many risk factors have been identified for developing rickets. Rickets is common in children between the ages of 6 and 36 months.

It is very common in regions where there is less sunlight and children eat vegetarian food and do not eat milk products. Infants who are fed only on breast milk also have a risk of developing rickets because breast milk has low quantities of Vitamin D. People with dark skin are at higher risk because their skin prevents penetration of sunlight thereby avoiding the body from producing Vitamin D.

How long does rickets take to heal?

Recovering from rickets can take several months depending upon the severity of the disease. If bones of a person have deformities due to rickets, it can be healed within a certain time period and bowed legs also get back in shape without any surgery.

Can rickets be cured?

Rickets can be cured by doing necessary changes in the diet like taking Vitamin D whose deficiency is the main cause of rickets. But medicines should not be left in the middle of the treatment because it prevents the reoccurring of the conditions causing rickets.

What is the cost of rickets treatment in India?

The treatment of rickets in India starts from 2500 INR. This also depends upon the severity of the disease, thus the price keeps on increasing, according to the situation.

How to prevent rickets?

There are several ways in which you can prevent rickets:

  • Eating a healthy balanced diet with good Vitamin D sources
  • Spending time in the sun so that there is the proper intake of natural Vitamin D
  • Supplements of Vitamin D also work
  • In winter months when sunlight is less, face and hands should be exposed to sunlight.
  • Adequate intake of foods rich in Vitamin D, calcium and phosphate are necessary.

Popular Questions & Answers

My free t4 comes in low while my tsh is normal. The initial set of antibody tests have all come back normal as well. I maintain a diet of 1300 calories or less each day, I swim for an hour, I get on the elliptical for 30- 40 min. I’m average on activity but very careful to stay away from carbs yet when I implemented the hour of pool time, while thinking I would lose weight, instead I gained 9 pounds in approximately 2 weeks. I have 3 nodules under 1 cm on my thyroid. My endocrinologist took the first set of labs and said to get off my biotin for 2 weeks so she could retest. Apparently the free t4 was slightly higher but still low and not within normal range. My 2 cousins have thyroid issues and one needed to have her thyroid partially removed. I think something isn’t right but, the Dr. said she will check back in with me in 6 months to see how my nodules are doing. She blames the labs being off a possible lab discrepancy on the ranges. I had a blood test before that at my ob where my free t4 was also showing low. She advised this would be reviewed for trends, but I feel like nothing really will be done. My cousin who has hypothyroid said to make a list of all my oddities and things i’ve noticed. Here it is. Any guesses at what may be wrong beside the fact i’m overweight but have no appetite? I feel like she looks at me now and does’t realize at all what I was like and how suddenly this came about. Any suggestions? I’m at a lose and with the fatigue and countless other issues, I just don’t know what do do or who may actually take the time to help. - [ ] high cholesterol even when I was 100 lbs (since teens) - [ ] always cold - very hard to get warm - [ ] recurrent sinus infections - [ ] fatigue that does’t go away regardless of any amount of sleep I have - [ ] joint pain - [ ] get really sick with colds - [ ] unexplained knee swelling and pain - crutches for a month (6 years ago - xray showed no issue) - [ ] insomnia (about 7 years) - [ ] after accident 7 years ago thyroid comment - appeared large in x-ray - had a Dr. ever mentioned? - [ ] swine flu - [ ] vitamin d deficiency (until recently) - [ ] anemic (until recently) - [ ] brittle nails - won’t grow - [ ] dry skin - [ ] feel puffy around face and eyes usually. - [ ] no appetite - [ ] always feel need to swallow and it’s gotten worse the last couple weeks - [ ] hand tingles - [ ] aches in muscles - [ ] foot cramps - [ ] after prednisone (post swine flu) - unexplained pain like fire shooting up my calves making it unbearable to walk for almost 6 months. Had to use scooter at stores. Told it was water retention - edema calves, feet, arms, face. - [ ] sudden weight gain after this incident. From a size 0 to where I am in 2-3 months. No matter what I do - it will not come off. I popped back from both pregnancies immediately. - [ ] seldom but sudden feeling of deflation - coolness around face (i feel good sometimes) I felt this after a round of corticosteroid shot briefly - [ ] tennis elbow - Dr. said prob water retention - [ ] Dr. zag referred me to psychiatrist for depression/ psyc felt it was add - [ ] no weight loss staying at 1300 cals (approx 2-3 years) - [ ] neck pain - feels swollen from front - [ ] hoarse voice often - [ ] tightness with swallowing - no other cold related symptoms - [ ] recurrent urticaria with fever - one Dr. said it was a man of war bite, another sunburn that I rubbed lemon on, another allergies 2-3 years - [ ] heavy periods over 2-3 years constant spotting / this ended with natazia (started last month) gyn recommenced ablation - [ ] advised by Dr. zag blood test results showed “borderline lupus” - [ ] 3 cousins say they have hypothyroid. One briefly mentioned an operation to one side - [ ] 2 of 5 aunts on mother’s side have thyroid issues. No specifics. - [ ] dad had lyphodema - [ ] rarely have an appetite - [ ] keto didn’t help with weight but helps somewhat with the inflammatory feeling - [ ] even killing myself with exercise makes no difference - [ ] I can juice for a week without losing weight - [ ] constipation - [ ] major pain in shoulders - I do weights, stretches, and have done the physical therapy I did after accident and it’s only gotten worse - [ ] fast weight gain initially - [ ] sudden weight gain over the past couple weeks of 5 pounds despite adding another hour to my workout which is now an hour and 45 minutes - [ ] sudden onset of snoring (feel no more fatigued than the usual) - [ ] waking up early for no reason.

MBBS, MD Internal Medicine, PhD (Endocrinology), FRCP(Edin)
Endocrinologist, Vellore
Dear lybrate-user, going through your very complex list of symptoms, it appears to me that you may only have obesity and may be situational depression along with vitamin d and calcium deficiency. I suggest that you go ona strict paleo diet complet...

Hi doctor, my age is 26. I had c-section delivery on 28 november 2019. Now I had some weakness and hair fall. Doctor prescribed me cipcal calcium tablet and pp26 forte iron tablet during pregnancy. Can I continue that tablet now for weakness. Please suggest me. Is there any side effects while taking pp26 forte tablet. Because I have not got periods, only has little brown discharge.

DNB (Dermatology), MBBS, Diploma in Trichology - Cosmetology
Dermatologist, Hyderabad
Hello lybrate-user! definitely, you can continue pp26 forte iron and calcium supplements. No harm in taking. In fact ,they will reduce weakness. These medication usually don't cause periods disturbance .please check with your gynaecologist if not ...

My son 17 year old. He is suffering from sickle cells ss dicies. Pleas give me line of treatment. At present myelostat 1.5 cap. And dil vote tab once daily.

DM - Clinical Haematology, MD - General Medicine, MBBS Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery
Hematologist, Pune
Sickle cell anemia patients have to take Hydroxyurea, Folic acid and vitamin D and calcium supplements regularly They need regular vaccination They need annual USG abdomen to look for gall stones Based on sickling events they have to take blood th...
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