Osteomalacia (rickets)
Classification and external resources
ICD-10 M83
ICD-9 268.2
DiseasesDB 9351
eMedicine ped/2014 radio/610
MeSH D010018

Osteomalacia is the softening of the bones caused by defective bone mineralization secondary to inadequate amounts of available phosphorus and calcium, or because of overactive resorption of calcium from the bone as a result of hyperparathyroidism (which causes hypercalcemia, in contrast to other etiologies).[1] Osteomalacia in children is known as rickets, and because of this, use of the term osteomalacia is often restricted to the milder, adult form of the disease. It may show signs as diffuse body pains, muscle weakness, and fragility of the bones. The most common cause of the disease is a deficiency in vitamin D, which is normally obtained from the diet and/or from sunlight exposure.[2]


General characteristics

Osteomalacia is a generalized bone condition in which there is inadequate mineralization of the bone. Many of the effects of the disease overlap with the more common osteoporosis, but the two diseases are significantly different. There are two main causes of osteomalacia: (1) insufficient calcium absorption from the intestine because of lack of dietary calcium or a deficiency of or resistance to the action of vitamin D; and (2) Phosphate deficiency caused by increased renal losses.

Osteomalacia is derived from Greek: osteo- which means "bone", and malacia which means "softness". In the past tense of Brazilian narratives, the disease was also known as malacosteon and its Latin-derived equivalent, mollities ossium.


The causes of adult osteomalacia are varied, but ultimately result in a vitamin D deficiency:

Signs and Symptoms

  • Weak bones
  • Bone pain
  • Spinal bone pain
  • Pelvic bone pain
  • Leg bone pain
  • Muscle weakness
  • Hypocalcemia
  • Compressed vertebrae
  • Pelvic flattening
  • Fractures
  • Easy fracturing
  • Bone softening
  • Bending of bones
  • Bone fractures

Clinical features

Osteomalacia in adults starts insidiously as aches and pains in the lumbar (lower back) region and thighs, spreading later to the arms and ribs. The pain is symmetrical, non-radiating and is accompanied by sensitivity in the involved bones. Proximal muscles are weak, and there is difficulty in climbing up stairs and getting up from a squatting position.

Due to demineralization bones become less rigid. Physical signs include deformities like triradiate pelvis[6] and lordosis. The patient has a typical "waddling" gait. However, those physical signs may derive from a previous osteomalacial state, since bones do not regain their original shape after they become deformed.

Pathologic fractures due to weight bearing may develop. Most of the time, the only alleged symptom is chronic fatigue, while bone aches are not spontaneous but only revealed by pressure or shocks.

It differs from renal osteodystrophy, where the latter shows hyperphosphatemia

Biochemical findings

Biochemical features are similar to those of rickets. The major factor is an abnormally low vitamin D concentration in blood serum.

Major typical biochemical findings are:

  • The serum calcium is low
  • Urinary calcium is low
  • Serum phosphate is low except in cases of renal osteodystrophy
  • Serum alkaline phosphatase is high

Furthermore, a technetium bone scan will show increased activity.

Comparison of bone pathology
view · Calcium Phosphate Alkaline phosphatase Parathyroid hormone Comments
Osteoporosis unaffected unaffected variable unaffected decreased bone mass
Osteopetrosis unaffected unaffected elevated unaffected thick dense bones also known as marble bone
Osteomalacia and rickets decreased decreased variable elevated soft bones
Osteitis fibrosa cystica elevated decreased elevated elevated brown tumors
Paget's disease of bone unaffected unaffected variable (depending on stage of disease) unaffected abnormal bone architecture

Radiographic characteristics

Radiological appearances include:


Nutritional osteomalacia responds well to administration of 10,000 IU weekly of vitamin D for four to six weeks. Osteomalacia due to malabsorption may require treatment by injection or daily oral dosing[7] of significant amounts of vitamin D.


  1. ^ TheFreeDictionary > osteomalacia Citing: Mosby's Medical Dictionary, 8th edition. Copyright 2009
  2. ^ MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia: Osteomalacia
  3. ^ "Autoimmunity research foundation, Science behind Vitamin D". http://mpkb.org/home/pathogenesis/vitamind. Retrieved 2011-07-19. 
  4. ^ Pack, Alison (2008). "Bone health in people with epilepsy: is it impaired and what are the risk factors". Seizure 17 (2): 181–6. doi:10.1016/j.seizure.2007.11.020. PMID 18187347. 
  5. ^ Albany, Costantine; Servetnyk, Zhanna (2009). "Disabling osteomalacia and myopathy as the only presenting features of celiac disease: a case report". Cases Journal 2 (1): 20. doi:10.1186/1757-1626-2-20. PMC 2626577. PMID 19128487. http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?tool=pmcentrez&artid=2626577. 
  6. ^ Chakravorty, N. K. (1980). "Triradiate deformity of the pelvis in Paget's disease of bone.". Postgraduate Medical Journal 56 (653): 213–5. doi:10.1136/pgmj.56.653.213. PMC 2425842. PMID 7393817. http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?tool=pmcentrez&artid=2425842. 
  7. ^ Eisman, John A. (1988). "6 Osteomalacia". Baillière's Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism 2: 125–55. doi:10.1016/S0950-351X(88)80011-9. 

See also

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • osteomalacia — f. patol. Alteración ósea provocada por una desmineralización generalizada debida a un déficit de la fijación fosfocálcica. Cursa con dolores, deformaciones, fracturas, debilidad muscular, hipersensibilidad, etc. El tratamiento debe corregir los… …   Diccionario médico

  • osteomalacia — (Del lat. osteomalacĭa, y este del gr. ὀστέον, hueso, y μαλακός, blando). f. Med. Proceso morboso consistente en el reblandecimiento de los huesos por la pérdida de sus sales calcáreas …   Diccionario de la lengua española

  • Osteomalacia — Os te*o*ma*la ci*a, n. [NL., fr. Gr. oste on bone + ? softness.] (Med.) A disease of the bones, in which they lose their earthy material, and become soft, flexible, and distorted. Also called {malacia}. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Osteomalacia — vgl. Osteomalazie …   Das Wörterbuch medizinischer Fachausdrücke

  • osteomalacia — s. f. [Medicina] Amolecimento dos ossos.   ‣ Etimologia: osteo + grego malakía, as, suavidade, moleza, fraqueza …   Dicionário da Língua Portuguesa

  • osteomalacia — sustantivo femenino 1. (no contable) Área: medicina Reblandecimiento patológico de los huesos por falta de vitaminas …   Diccionario Salamanca de la Lengua Española

  • osteomalacia — [äs΄tē ō mə lā′shə, äs΄tē ō mə lā′shē ə] n. [ModL < OSTEO + malacia, a softening of tissue < Gr malakia, softness < malakos, soft: see MALACO ] a bone disease characterized by a softening of the bones, resulting from deficient bone… …   English World dictionary

  • Osteomalacia — Softening of bones, particularly in the sense of bone weakened by demineralization (the loss of mineral) and most notably by the depletion of calcium from bone. Osteomalacia may be caused by poor dietary intake or poor absorption of calcium and… …   Medical dictionary

  • osteomalacia — (Del gr. osteon, hueso + malakos , blando.) ► sustantivo femenino MEDICINA Reblandecimiento de los huesos producido por la pérdida de sus sales calcáreas. * * * osteomalacia (de «osteo » y el gr. «malakía», reblandecimiento) f. Med. Trastorno… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • osteomalacia — osteomalacial, osteomalacic /os tee oh meuh las ik/, adj. /os tee oh meuh lay sheuh, shee euh, see euh/, n. Pathol. a condition characterized by softening of the bones with resultant pain, weakness, and bone fragility, caused by inadequate… …   Universalium

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.