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What are the symptoms of osteomalacia?

Osteomalacia, particularly when caused by a lack of vitamin D, can result in:

  • pain felt in the bones
  • muscle weakness
  • slight cracks in the bone (partial fractures).

Bone pain is felt most often in the legs, groin, upper thighs and knees, and sometimes in the feet when you stand, walk or run. Sitting or lying down to rest can often ease the pain. Sometimes a minor knock on a bone such as the shin will feel unusually painful. As the condition gets worse, pain can be felt everywhere and simple movements can hurt.

Muscles may become weak or feel stiff. The weakness tends to affect the thighs and the muscles in the shoulders and main trunk of the body. This can make it difficult to climb stairs, get up from a chair without using the arms for support and, in very severe cases, get out of bed.

Partial fractures linked with osteomalacia are called Looser’s zones, which can cause pain. Occasionally, these cracks can lead to full breaks (complete fractures).

Looser's zone

In the much rarer inherited form of osteomalacia, muscle weakness is less common. The main problem is that mineral laid down in the ligaments and tendons around the spine, hips and shoulders makes it difficult to move these joints.

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