Dr. Carlos Rebollón

in Panama

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When discussing bone health, there is a disease that always prevails: osteoporosis. What few people know is that there is also osteomalacia, a completely preventable bone disorder that everyone should be aware of in order to differentiate it from osteoporosis.

Next, we will talk about its meaning, causes, symptoms, risks, and the overall prognosis for people with osteomalacia.

What is osteomalacia?

Osteomalacia is a condition that causes the bones to not harden as they should, resulting in bone softening attributed to a lack of vitamin D. Vitamin D is necessary for calcium absorption in the body, and calcium is an essential mineral for maintaining the strength and hardness of all bone structures.

Que Es La Osteomalacia

The human body regularly undergoes a process of bone remodeling, in which bones absorb traces of the previous tissue to transform it into new bone tissue. This remodeling process begins in the inner layers of the bone where collagen accumulates.

Afterward, mineralization occurs, where the inner layer of the bone starts to be coated with minerals to form a tougher and more resistant shield.

In individuals with osteomalacia, the formation of this shield is incomplete, leaving the bone partially vulnerable.

Osteomalacia can occur at any age, with the difference that it is known as rickets in children.

Diagnosis of osteomalacia

In addition to the usual medical evaluation, the specialist will need the results of a blood test to check levels of calcium, vitamin D, phosphate, creatinine, among others.

Bone density tests, X-rays, or bone biopsies are also frequently used to verify bone softening and rule out the presence of pseudofractures or other bone lesions.

Symptoms of osteomalacia

In some cases, people may be unaware of the presence of osteomalacia due to a lack of symptoms. However, others may experience:

Sintomas De La Osteomalacia

Causes of osteomalacia

Insufficient calcium in the bloodstream leads to weak bones; in turn, this calcium deficiency can result from having very low levels of vitamin D in the body.

Remember that vitamin D is absorbed through the consumption of foods rich in it, but it can also be produced by our own body when exposed to sunlight on the skin. Vitamin D deficiency can be caused by:

Tratamientos Para La Osteomalacia

Treatments for osteomalacia

Treatment for osteomalacia is entirely conservative. The specialist will prescribe vitamin supplements in specific doses for each patient, focusing particularly on improving calcium, vitamin D, and phosphorus levels.

The doctor may recommend follow-up blood tests to evaluate how calcium and phosphorus levels have improved.

If a person does not receive timely and appropriate treatment, there is a risk that osteomalacia symptoms worsen and recurrent pseudofractures and/or bone fractures may occur.


Yes, osteomalacia can develop at any stage of youth, adulthood, or old age. Its prognosis is very favorable after a few months of treatment. As explained initially, in children, this condition is known as rickets and can cause bone deformities and affect growth.

As a musculoskeletal condition, osteomalacia can be treated by an orthopedic specialist, a traumatologist, or even a rheumatologist.

Osteomalacia can be prevented with simple changes in dietary habits and lifestyle. Include foods rich in vitamin D and calcium in your diet (avocado, mushrooms, salmon, tuna, egg yolk, dairy products, etc.) and don’t forget to get some sunlight every day.

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