How to Say It: Os-tee-o-mal-a-she-uh
by Amy Scholten, MPH
Osteomalacia is a bone disease. It causes bones to soften and weaken. Treatment can improve outcomes.
Vitamin D helps the body use calcium to build bone. The most common cause of osteomalacia is a low level of vitamin D. This may happen due to:
The risk of osteomalacia is higher in older adults and those with darker skin. Other things that raise the risk are:
Osteomalacia often does not cause symptoms. In those that have them, symptoms may be:
The condition can also cause deformed and broken bones.
The doctor will ask about symptoms and past health. A physical exam may be done.
Tests may include:
This may be enough to make the diagnosis. The doctor may want to do more tests to find the cause.
The goal of care is to treat the cause. Problems from osteomalacia also need to be treated.
Options to treat the cause may be:
If medicines caused the condition, they may need to be stopped or changed. Other medicines may be given to treat underlying causes.
Problems due to osteomalacia may also need to be treated. Options may be:
To risk of osteomalacia may be lowered by:
Eat Right—Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases
Chang SW, Lee HC. Vitamin D and health - The missing vitamin in humans. Pediatr Neonatol. 2019;60(3):237-244.
Hypophosphatemia—approach to the patient. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/hypophosphatemia-approach-to-the-patient. Accessed August 8, 2021.
Osteomalacia. Cedars-Sinai website. Available at: https://www.cedars-sinai.edu/Patients/Health-Conditions/Osteomalacia.aspx. Accessed August 8, 2021.
Osteomalacia. Cleveland Clinic website. Available at: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/13017-osteomalacia . . Accessed August 8, 2021.
Osteomalacia. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/osteomalacia-om. Accessed August 8, 2021.
Vitamin D deficiency in adults. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/vitamin-d-deficiency-in-adults. Accessed August 8, 2021.
Last reviewed July 2021 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Dan Ostrovsky, MD
Last Updated: 8/6/2021
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