Rickets

Alternative Names

Osteomalacia in children; Vitamin D deficiency; Renal rickets; Hepatic rickets

Definition of Rickets

Rickets is a disorder caused by a lack of vitamin D, calcium, or phosphate. It leads to softening and weakening of the bones.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

Vitamin D helps the body control calcium and phosphate levels. If the blood levels of these minerals become too low, the body may produce hormones that cause calcium and phosphate to be released from the bones. This leads to weak and soft bones.

Signs and tests

A physical exam reveals tenderness or pain in the bones, rather than in the joints or muscles.

Treatment

The goals of treatment are to relieve symptoms and correct the cause of the condition. The cause must be treated to prevent the disease from returning.

Expectations (prognosis)

The disorder may be corrected by replacing vitamin D and minerals. Laboratory values and x-rays usually improve after about 1 week, although some cases may require large doses of minerals and vitamin D.

Review

Neil K. Kaneshiro, MD, MHA, Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc. – 8/3/2010

X-ray

ADAM Medical Encyclopedia

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