Can adults have rickets?

Softening and deforming of bones due to dietary deficiency in calcium, phosphorous and vitamin D in children is known as rickets. The same condition in adults is referred to as osteomalacia. While there is a hereditary kind of rickets as well, the most common cases are due to lack of vitamin D in the diet and decreased exposure to sunlight for de novo synthesis. The diagnosis of rickets and osteomalacia is based on serum calcium and vitamin D levels, as well as the radiological investigations like x ray in lahore.

Who is affected by rickets?

The incidence of rickets is increased in children who have poor dietary habits, belong to the low socio-economic group, don’t have exposure to sunlight and those who are taking medication that interferes with vitamin D absorption. The age group most affected by rickets in children ranges from 6 to 36 months.

In adults, osteomalacia or rickets, is a consequence of low serum vitamin D which results in defective bone-maturation process. Vitamin D, phosphate and calcium fortify the bones and strengthen them; therefore, low serum levels of any of the aforementioned compounds can result in osteomalacia.

In chronic diseases of the kidney and liver, or parathyroid low serum vitamin D levels can result.

What are the signs and symptoms of rickets and osteomalacia?

Rickets can show the following signs and symptoms:

Pain due to the effect of osteomalacia on lower back bones, legs, ribs, hip and pelvis;the pain is mostly dull in nature, and worse at night. With worsening condition, the muscles weaken and the bone pain intensifies. The pain of osteomalacia is not relieved with rest.

Fragile bones are a consequence of poor bone development as there is insufficient calcium for fortification and strengthening of bones. As a result, the odds of getting bone fractures is increased upon minor trauma.

Dental problems with weakened tooth enamel and increased risk of cavities is common in osteomalacia.

In children with vitamin D deficiency or rickets, the growth is retarded and the height of the child is less than that for their average age.

What are the investigations for diagnosis of osteomalacia?

While it may be difficult to diagnose, blood work and radiographical investigations are helpful in diagnosing osteomalacia.

Blood tests: lowserum levels of vitamin D, calcium and phosphorous are indicative of osteomalacia. However, there can be other causes of low serum calcium such as primary hypoparathyroidism, which is why careful history and examination by the healthcare provider are crucial.

Radiographic studies: slight cracks on the x ray, with structural changes are evident on x-rays, which are characteristic of osteomalacia.

Bone biopsy: in this investigation a sample of bone tissue is withdrawn with the help of a needle, under general anesthesia. While it conclusively confirms the diagnosis of osteomalacia, it is rarely needed.

How to treat and prevent osteomalacia?

Since osteomalacia is a result of vitamin D deficiency, it is treated by increasing the intake of vitamin D and calcium. To replenish the stores of vitamin D and calcium, their supplements are prescribed for several months. Additionally, dietary intake of calcium and vitamin D rich foods should be increased.

In certain cases, osteomalacia is secondary to kidney and liver disordersand treating these is helpful in preventing osteomalacia. Your healthcare provider can anticipate osteomalacia secondary to chronic diseases and can order investigations like serum vitamin D, phosphorus and calcium levels, along with radiological investigations like x ray in karachi.

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