Osteomalacia is marked by a variety of symptoms including:
- Difficulty walking up stairs or getting up from a chair
- Frequent bone fractures with little cause
- Generalized pain that may not affect any particular part of the body. Sometimes it is experienced a stiffness. Sometimes it can be due to slight cracks in bones that can be seen on X-rays.
- Weak thigh and arm muscles
Causes and Risk Factors
There are two common causes of osteomalacia:
- The body can't absorb fat properly due to a digestive disorder. This is called steatorrhea. Fats are passed directly out the body in the stool. As a result, vitamin D, which is usually absorbed with fat, and calcium are poorly absorbed.
- The kidneys don't work properly. As a result of this, there is more acid in body fluids. Called tubular acidosis, this increased acid gradually dissolves the skeleton.
A third, less common cause of osteomalacia is digestive problems that keep the body from absorbing calcium properly. In the United States, osteomalacia and rickets rarely occur because of a lack of vitamin D. Most milk is supplemented with vitamin D. Additionally, the skin makes vitamin D after getting even a little sunlight. However, if you or your child has trouble digesting milk products, your doctor may advise taking vitamin D supplements to prevent a lack of vitamin D. A long-term lack of calcium in the diet also can result in osteomalacia, but it usually causes osteoporosis. There is also a hereditary form of rickets often called vitamin D-resistant rickets. (In this case, a person doesn't grow to full, typical adult height.)