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We contacted a doctor to answer your question. From what you have described, it is a condition called rickets. Since rickets is used to refer to children, Your sister is 24yrs old and therefore her type of ricket is called Osteomalacia.

Read more about ricket or ostemalacia(in adualts) and how they can be cured.


Rickets is a condition that affects bone development in children. It causes the bones to become soft and malformed, which can lead to bone deformities.

Rickets in adults is known as osteomalacia or soft bones.

The most common cause of rickets is a lack of vitamin D and calcium. Vitamin D comes from foods such as oily fish and eggs, and from sunlight on our skin. Vitamin D is essential for a child to form strong and healthy bones.

In rare cases, children can be born with a genetic form of rickets. It can also develop if another condition affects how vitamins and minerals are absorbed by the body.

Rickets causes the bones to become painful, soft and weak. This leads to deformities of the skeleton, such as bowed legs, curvature of the spine and thickening of the ankles, wrists and knees.

When to seek medical advice

If your child has any symptoms of rickets, such as bone pain, delayed growth or skeletal problems, take them to your doctor for a check up

Preventing rickets

Rickets can easily be prevented by eating a diet that includes vitamin D and calcium and spending some time in sunlight. The hands and face only need to be exposed to the sunlight a few times a week during spring and summer.

Treating rickets

Rickets can be successfully treated in most children by ensuring they eat foods that contain calcium and vitamin D or take vitamin and mineral supplements.

If your child has problems absorbing vitamins and minerals, they may need a higher dose or a yearly vitamin D injection.

Who is affected?

Rickets was common during Victorian times, but mostly disappeared in the Western world during the 1940s thanks to the fortification with vitamin D of foods such as margarine and cereal.

However, there has been and increase in cases of rickets in the UK in recent years. Children of Asian, African-Caribbean and Middle Eastern origin have a higher risk because their skin is darker and they need more sunlight to get enough vitamin D.

Other groups who are at risk include children born prematurely and children taking medication that interferes with vitamin D. However, any child whose diet does not contain enough vitamin D or calcium can develop rickets.


Rickets causes a child's bones to become soft, weak and malformed, which can lead to bone deformities.

The signs and symptoms of rickets include:

Pain &ndash; the bones affected by rickets are often sore and painful, so the child may be reluctant to walk or may tire easily. 
Skeletal deformities &ndash; these include soft skull bones, bowed legs, curvature of the spine, and thickening of the ankles, wrists and knees. The breastbone can also stick out, which is sometimes called &quot;pigeon chest&quot;.
Fragile bones &ndash; the bones become weaker and more prone to fractures.
Poor growth and development &ndash; the skeleton does not grow and develop properly so the child will be shorter than average.
Dental problems &ndash; these include weak tooth enamel, delay in teeth coming through and increased risk of cavities.

As your child gets older, the symptoms of rickets may also include:

waddling when walking
bent bones
muscle weakness and pain

These symptoms can also affect adults who have soft bones (osteomalacia).


Occasionally, rickets can cause low levels of calcium in the blood. This is known as hypocalcaemia and it can make the symptoms of rickets worse. It can also cause muscle cramps, twitching, tingling in the hands and feet, and fits

When to seek medical advice

If your child has any symptoms of rickets, such as bone pain, delayed growth, muscle weakness or skeletal problems, take them to your doctor for a check-up.


Rickets usually occurs because of a lack of vitamin D or calcium. It can also be caused by a genetic defect or another health condition.

Lack of vitamin D and calcium

The most common cause of rickets is a lack of vitamin D or calcium in a child’s diet. Both are essential for children to develop strong and healthy bones. The main sources of vitamin D are:

Sunlight &ndash; your skin produces vitamin D when it is exposed to the sun. We get most of our vitamin D this way.
Food &ndash; vitamin D is also found in foods such as oily fish, eggs and fortified breakfast cereals.

Over a long time, vitamin D deficiency causes rickets in children and osteomalacia (soft bones) in adults.

Rickets is more common in children of Asian, African-Caribbean and Middle Eastern origin because their skin is darker and needs more sunlight to get enough vitamin D. However, any child who does not get enough sunlight, is frequently covered up or has a diet low in vitamin D or calcium is also at risk of getting rickets.

Babies born prematurely are also at risk of developing rickets because the foetus builds up stores of vitamin D while in the womb. As the amount of vitamin D in breast milk varies, the Department of Health recommends that all pregnant and breastfeeding women should take a daily supplement of 10 micrograms (mcg) of vitamin D.

This ensures that the mother’s vitamin D requirements are met and that adequate foetal stores are built up for early infancy.

Genetic defect

Hypophosphatemic rickets is a genetic disorder in which the kidneys and bones deal abnormally with phosphate (calcium phosphate is what makes bones and teeth hard). This leaves too little phosphate in the blood and bones, leading to weak and soft bones.

Other types of genetic rickets affect special proteins in the body that are used by vitamin D.

Underlying conditions

Occasionally, rickets develops in children with rare forms of kidney, liver and intestinal conditions. These can affect the absorption and metabolism of vitamins and minerals.


If rickets is suspected, your GP may carry out a number of tests including a physical examination, an X-ray and blood tests.

These are described in more detail below:

Physical examination &ndash; this will check for any obvious problems with your child&rsquo;s skeleton, such as bone pain and tenderness.
Medical history &ndash; your doctor will discuss your child&rsquo;s medical history, diet, family history and any medication they are currently taking.
Blood tests &ndash; your doctor may arrange for your child to have some blood tests to measure calcium, phosphorous and vitamin D levels.
X-ray &ndash; your child may also have some X-rays and sometimes a bone densitometry scan (DEXA scan), which is a special type of X-ray that measures the calcium content in the bones.


Most cases of rickets are caused by a vitamin D and calcium deficiency. Therefore, rickets is usually treated by increasing a person's intake of vitamin D and calcium.

Vitamin D and calcium can be increased by:

eating more foods rich in calcium and vitamin D
taking daily calcium and vitamin D supplements
having a vitamin D injection each year (this is only necessary if the child cannot take the supplements by mouth or has intestinal or liver disease)

Sunlight also contains vitamin D, so you may be advised to increase the amount of time your child spends outside.

Your doctor will advise you about how much vitamin D and calcium your child will need to take. This will depend on their age and the cause of the rickets. If your child has problems absorbing vitamins, they may need a higher dose.

When rickets occurs as a complication of another medical condition, treating the underlying condition will often cure the rickets. For example, people who have kidney disease and rickets may require dialysis (treatment that replicates many of the kidneys' fu

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