Osteomalacia: Overview

The word "osteomalacia" describes a condition in which the bones soften significantly due to a decreased ability to harden or mineralize. Minerals such as calcium and phosphorus are found in bones and provide structure and stability. Calcium and phosphorus levels in the body are regulated by vitamin D.

An imbalance of these minerals, caused mostly by a Vitamin D deficiency, may impair bone health and lead to osteomalacia. Osteomalacia is not synonymous with osteoporosis. Though both can result in bone fractures, osteomalacia is a bone problem as compared to hardening. Treatment for osteomalacia includes adequate amounts of Vitamin D and calcium, both of which are required to harden and strengthen bones and treatment of underlying problems.


The Osteomalacia symptoms include:

When to see a doctor?

Osteomalacia can cause significant bone fractures in some cases and should be treated as early as possible. Seek immediate medical attention if you have major signs and symptoms of osteomalacia, such as bone deformities, diffuse bone pains, swelling, muscle weakness, frequent falls or inability to stand or walk without support.


A malfunction in the bone-building process causes osteomalacia. Because vitamin D is required to form healthy bones, any condition that affects the body's vitamin D levels will impact bone strength and development. When ultraviolet (UV-rays) light hits the skin, vitamin D is produced from a precursor present under the skin. Inadequate sunlight, lack of proper diet containing vitamin-D and calcium, like dairy and milk products has been linked to the emergence of osteomalacia. Other less common causes of osteomalacia include liver and renal illnesses, genetic abnormalities, and cancer which affect the metabolism of Calcium and Vitamin D.

Risk Factors

The following are risk factors for osteomalacia:

  • Family history of vitamin D metabolism disorders
  • Anti Seizure medications
  • Less exposure to sunlight
  • Anorexia-nervosa
  • Diet that has little variety
  • Cancers
  • Diet that is low in phosphate
  • Diet that is low in milk and diary products
  • Diet that is low in vitamin D
  • Environmental conditions, such as limited sunlight and smog
  • Kidney failure
  • Liver disease
  • Overuse of sunblock
  • Previous gastrectomy surgery


  • There are problems if the cause of the osteomalacia is not treated. Adults can easily fracture bones such as the ribs, legs, and spine.
  • In addition, osteomalacia and rickets are frequently found together in children, resulting in leg bending(bow-legs) or early tooth loss.
  • If there is insufficient vitamin D, symptoms may reappear. They will also reappear if patients discontinue taking supplements or do not address underlying issues such as renal failure.
  • Consult with the healthcare professional to develop a treatment plan based on your specific requirements.


A lack of Vitamin D usually causes osteomalacia due to inadequate sun exposure or a diet low in Vitamin D. It can be avoided to a larger extent by:

  • Including vitamin D-rich foods such as salmon and egg yolks.
  • Having a well-balanced diet rich in vitamin D and calcium-rich foods
  • Taking Vitamin D supplements if necessary (as directed by your doctor).
  • Getting enough sunlight
  • Understanding the core reason if a family history exists.


Many tests may be performed to detect if a person has osteomalacia.

  • Low vitamin D levels are the most important indicator; however, low calcium levels or a significant drop in phosphate levels may also indicate osteomalacia.
  • X-rays may be done to determine the presence of osteomalacia.
  • A bone mineral density scan can assist in determining how much calcium and other minerals are present in a patient's bone segment. These scans are not necessary to make an osteomalacia diagnosis. They may, however, provide important information regarding a patient's bone health.
  • The bone is examined under a microscope to see whether it has osteomalacia or rickets. A bone biopsy, in which a sample of bone tissue is obtained and evaluated, may be performed in rare instances by the doctor.


The first step in treating osteomalacia is to seek medical attention from your doctor. The doctor will ask you questions, examine a blood sample, and possibly prescribe another diagnostic test to determine if you have osteomalacia. Sticking to the osteomalacia treatment plan and taking all the meds as directed is critical.

The treatment strategy for osteomalacia is based on addressing the underlying cause of the problem. Treatment may include maintaining normal amounts of vitamin D, calcium, and phosphorus in the body. Vitamin supplements can help replace these minerals until the equilibrium is restored.

Dos and Don’ts

Osteomalacia can impair bone development or the bone-building process, rendering bones fragile and prone to fracture. Along with medication, here are some suggestions to assist control symptoms and minimize the negative consequences of the conditions. Adhering to a list of dos and don'ts controls it and its associated symptoms. Several precautions, dietary changes, and self-care are required to deal with the ailment and its progression.



Get adequate sunlight Do high-impact exercises
Consume dairy foods Drink alcohol, and smoke cigarettes
Include high calcium-rich foods Consume caffeinated products.
Exercise daily to maintain a healthy body weight Eat fatty and oily foods
Take prescribed vitamin supplements Eat excessive salty foods.

Living with poor bone strength can be challenging. Stay alert, take all necessary measures, and see the doctor for optimal care and treatment.

Osteomalacia Care at Medicover Hospitals

At Medicover Hospitals, we have the most trusted group of orthopedic doctors and healthcare professionals skilled at providing the best medical treatment to patients while showing compassion and care. Our diagnostic department is equipped with state-of-the-art technology and equipment to conduct the necessary investigations for diagnosing Osteomalacia. Our exemplary team comprises orthopedics, other specialists, and general physicians who utilize a systematic and multidisciplinary approach to diagnose and treat this condition.


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