What Is Osteomalacia and How Does It Affect You?
Osteomalacia is a condition of reduced mineralization that indicates "soft bones." This indicates that the bone is breaking down quicker than it can be repaired.
Because our bones are always undergoing a process called bone turnover, this disease can affect people of all ages. “Bone turnover” is defined as “the process through which the body reabsorbs old tissue and produces new bone tissue, beginning with the softer inner layer of collagen.”
When someone has osteomalacia, they also have a condition called reduced mineralization, which means the outer shell doesn't fully form, leaving the collagen mushy and vulnerable.
Osteomalacia, Rickets, and Osteoporosis: What's the Difference?
Rickets and osteoporosis are two more bone illnesses that have symptoms that are comparable to osteomalacia. Let's look at the distinctions between them.
The most significant distinction between osteomalacia and rickets is the age range affected. Rickets is a disease that only affects youngsters, as their bones are still growing, and it can result in malformed bones. Osteomalacia, on the other hand, can affect people of all ages.
Osteoporosis, on the other hand, is a disease that causes the bones to become porous and brittle, increasing the risk of fractures. The most significant distinction is that osteomalacia causes softening of the bones while osteoporosis causes bone loss.
Muscle weakness may occur in osteomalacia patients due to issues in the place where the muscle attaches to the bone. The most prevalent symptom of osteomalacia, however, is easily fractured bones.
Others may develop a waddling gait or suffer from bone discomfort, especially in the hips. The hips, lower back, legs, pelvis, and ribs are all reported to be affected.
Additional Signs and Symptoms
Patients with osteomalacia who have low calcium levels in their blood may encounter extra symptoms. Spasms in the hands and feet are examples of this.
If your calcium levels are low, you may experience numbness in your arms and legs, as well as around your mouth.
When Should You See a Doctor?
It's critical to see your doctor if you discover any signs or symptoms of osteomalacia. If this disease is not treated, it can lead to major problems, such as easily fractured bones.
Make an appointment with your doctor and inform him or her of your problems. They'll be able to diagnose you and recommend the best course of action.
What Causes Osteomalacia and How Can It Be Prevented?
Osteomalacia can be caused by a number of factors, the most prevalent of which is a vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D is a vitamin that aids in the absorption of calcium by the body. Calcium is also necessary for the formation and maintenance of strong bones.
“Vitamin D also helps maintain calcium and phosphate levels to help your bones build properly,” it continues. The good news is that vitamin D can be absorbed through the skin when exposed to ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun, but it can also be absorbed from vitamin D-rich foods. However, some conditions can interfere with your body's ability to absorb vitamin D. Let's have a look at the following.
Vitamin D Deficiency: What Causes It?
If you don't get enough vitamin D, your body won't be able to handle the calcium your bones need to keep healthy and strong. Poor food, lack of sun exposure, and intestinal problems are all potential causes.
If part of the stomach or small intestine is removed during surgery, some people may have trouble absorbing vitamin D. Other illnesses, such as, some types of cancer, and renal and liver issues, can all affect your body's ability to absorb vitamin D.
Osteomalacia from Other Sources
Phosphate depletion can also cause osteomalacia, according to Healthline. This happens when you don't eat any phosphorus-rich items in your diet.
Finally, several drugs used to treat seizures, such as phenytoin and phenobarbital, might cause osteomalacia.
Blood Test for Osteomalacia Diagnosis
A blood test may be requested by your doctor in order to. They'll be looking for low vitamin D, calcium, and phosphorus readings, which could indicate osteomalacia.
Your alkaline phosphatase isoenzymes and parathyroid hormone levels may also be checked by your doctor. If you have high amounts of either, you may have osteomalacia.
X-Rays are used to diagnose osteomalacia.
X-rays and other imaging studies are another method of diagnosing osteomalacia. These tests will reveal your doctor if you have any little breaks in your bones (known as Looser's transition zones).
Finally, if a blood test or x-ray aren't enough to diagnose this illness, a bone biopsy may be required. They will do this by inserting a tiny needle into your bone and taking a sample.
The good news is that if caught early enough, oral Vitamin D, calcium, or phosphate supplements may be all you need. Spending time outside in the sun can also help you absorb vitamin D, and in certain situations, you may need to take the supplement intravenously, through a vein in your arm.
Furthermore, if your vitamin D shortage is caused by an underlying ailment, that must be addressed as well. Finally, children with severe osteomalacia or rickets may require surgery or the use of braces to rectify the distortion of their bones.
The Consequences of Ignoring Osteomalacia
It is critical to treat osteomalacia. It can lead to shattered bones and possibly serious deformities if left untreated. Make an appointment with your doctor if you feel you have osteomalacia or are at risk of acquiring it.
There are medications that can help you manage the disease, thankfully. You may see results in as little as a few weeks with the appropriate treatment, but it takes around six months for your bones to totally recover.