Osteomalacia is softening and weakening of the bone due to lack of vitamin D. If you lack vitamin D, you cannot absorb calcium and phosphorus from food – these chemical elements are necessary for growth, hardening and maintenance of healthy bones. Lack of vitamin D in a child causes rickets. Because of the similar problems, osteomalacia is also called the adult rickets.
A healthy man gets vitamin D from two sources, from food and from sunlight’s acting on chemical substances in the skin. Therefore, poor nutrition and / or insufficient exposure to sunlight can cause vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D is rarely a consequence of some diseases, such as chronic renal failure or celiac disease. Other rare causes are long-term threatment of epilepsy with drugs and some surgical procedures in the digestive system. In all these cases, the absorption and utilization of vitamin D are disturbed.
Bones become sensitive and painful, with symptoms that can easily be confused with the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. The patient feels general fatigue and stiffness. There may be difficulties when a person tries to stand up and muscle cramps.
Osteomalacia (as well as rickets) is common in least developed countries, but is rare in the developed ones. Pregnant women are particularly prone to osteomalacia due to increased calcium needs. Residents from the warmer regions of the United Kingdom are also particularly vulnerable because the lack of sunlight causes vitamin D deficiency that can not be compensated for their traditional diet. Bones weakened by osteomalysis are prone to break, even at the slightest strain.
What to do?
Common nutrition in developed countries provides plenty of vitamin D, even for pregnant women. However, if you think you have osteomalacia, contact your doctor. He will refer you to blood and urine tests, and X-rays. In some cases, bone tissue biopsy is performed.
Self-help: to prevent or treat osteomalacia, make sure your diet contains a lot of vitamin D and calcium. Milk, eggs and liver are abundant with vitamin D. Exposure to sunlight also increases the supply of this vitamin.
Professional help: if your doctor finds you have osteomalacia, he will prescribe you regular amounts of vitamin D and treat any possible primary illness. If you can absorb vitamins from your digestive system, you will get tablets. If you cannot, you will get vitamin D injections. This treatment can generally cure the disease.