Friday, 21 September 2012

WOTD: Osteomalacia

X-ray appearances of the wrist and knee in osteomalacia (A) before treatment (B) after six months of treatment
Photograph: BMJ


"Osteomalacia" - Softening, weakening, and demineralisation of bones in adults due to vitamin D deficiency. Osteomalacia is rare in developed countries. It is most commonly affects housebound, elderly, and dark-skinned people live in countries that have less sunlight than their country of origin.

Healthy bone production requires calcium and phosphorus, which cannot be absorbed from the diet without sufficient vitamin D. Causes of osteomalacia include a diet low in vitamin D; malabsorption in conditions like coeliac disease or after intestinal surgery; or insufficient exposure to sunlight.

Osteomalacia causes bone pain, muscle weakness, and, if the blood level of calcium is very low, tetany. Weakened ones are vulnerable to distortion and fractures. Treatment is with a diet rich in vitamin D and increased exposure to sunlight; vitamin D supplements may also be given if osteomalacia is due to malabsorption.

"osteomalacia". British Medical Association (2007). Illustrated Medical Dictionary. 2nd ed. London: Dorling Kindersley (DK). p423.

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