Osteomalacia is a bone disorder caused due to softening of bones. Primarily this disease is caused by deficiency of vitamin D. Due to this condition the bone becomes weak and vulnerable to fracture. Osteomalacia happens due to defective bone building process whereas osteoporosis is a condition which develops due to reduced bone mass. This condition cause severe bone pain and body ache. It can be managed by taking vitamin D supplements as prescribed by your doctor.
For many people, there may not be any symptoms at all and it becomes evident only on seeing the X-ray images. As the bone condition worsens, it can cause intense pain on the bone and muscular pain. Pain can be felt on the lower back region, hips and pelvic floor and on the ribs. When you put additional pressure on the affected bone there will be intense pain.
Osteomalacia develops due to deficiency of vitamin D or due to insufficient absorption of calcium and phosphate. It is largely seen on the areas of little or no sunlight (sunlight is a natural source of Vitamin D) and if the individual includes very low levels of calcium in his diet. Calcium has to be absorbed fully by the body for the formation of strong bones. Major cause of osteomalacia is poor intake of vitamin D.
Certain surgeries done on the stomach can cause osteomalacia. Essential nutrients and vitamin D may not get fully absorbed by the intestine if some part of the stomach is removed. Any surgery done on the intestine can also cause this condition. Autoimmune disorder like celiac disease damages the soft lining of small intestine making it impossible to absorb certain nutrients. This can cause osteomalacia.
Certain diseases of kidney and liver problems can cause deficiency of vitamin D. People who are consuming antiepileptic medications like phenytoin or Phenobarbital are prone to osteomalacia. People who are seldom exposed to sunlight are at the highest risk of developing this disease.
Your doctor may examine your body after considering the symptoms. He may request for blood profile and urine analysis to check the level of vitamin D and certain minerals. Imaging tests like X-ray of affected bones are done. Bone biopsy is another method of diagnosing osteomalacia in which a long thin needle is sent through the skin in the affected portion to withdraw a small tissue. This is then analyzed in the laboratory for getting accurate picture of the affected bone.
Osteomalacia can be easily managed by taking right levels of vitamin D in your diet. Affected people are given vitamin D supplement for several months and are advised to get exposed with sunlight. For individuals with low levels of calcium or phosphorous drugs are given to supplement the deficiency. The underlying disease is carefully treated to improve the vitamin D absorption.
You can avoid osteomalacia by including foods rich in vitamin D in your daily diet. Foods like salmon, egg yolk, bread, cereals, pulses, milk and oily fish are rich in vitamin D. In case you have developed deficiency due to certain disorders or surgery you can take vitamin supplement after consulting your doctor.