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What is Metabolic Bone Disease?

By K. Gierok
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Metabolic bone disease is a disease that occurs either because of certain dietary deficiencies, a lack of sunlight exposure, or a defect in an individual's genetic code. Traditionally, in order to achieve proper growth and maintenance, bones require high amounts of calcium, phosphorous, and vitamin D. The absence of any of these items results in a substantially decreased bone density, and causes bones to become very weak and brittle. While metabolic bone disease can refer to a number of conditions, it is most often thought of in regards to osteoporosis, rickets, and osteogenesis imperfecta.

Osteoporosis is a disease in which the body's bones become more and more porous, lose density, and become light in mass. Traditionally, osteoporosis occurs most commonly in women who have passed the age of menopause, due to changes in hormones that occur at this time. Other conditions can also lead to the development of osteoporosis, however, such as smoking, hyperthyroidism, certain nutrient deficiencies, and a lack of physical activity.

In contrast of osteoporosis, rickets occurs primarily in childhood. Typically, this condition does not affect the density of bones, but rather causes them to become soft. This disease occurs most often because of a lack of vitamin D in the diet, though other conditions, such as a poorly functioning liver, can also lead to the development of rickets.

Osteogenesis imperfecta is most often caused by a specific gene mutation that effects the production of collagen in the bones of the body. While normal bones typically are composed of high amounts of collagen, those with osteogenesis imperfecta have substantial collagen deficiencies. Osteogenesis imperfecta commonly results in the formation of bones that break easily and are very brittle. While this condition can be very dangerous to those of any age, infants diagnosed with the condition have the highest mortality rate.

In order to successfully treat a particular metabolic bone disease, it is important first to identify the specific condition that the patient is suffering from. Typically, those with osteoporosis are prescribed a number of hormone replacement medications. Vitamin D and calcium supplementation are also a good choice for those who suffer from osteoporosis, as well as for those diagnosed with rickets. Often, those diagnosed with osteogenesis imperfecta must rely on prescription medications to treat their condition. For best results, patients must often use a combination of different treatment methods in order to successfully treat their specific metabolic bone disease.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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