The skeletal system is one of the most important components of the human body. Any condition that can negatively influence the proper functioning or composition of the bone structure can put the ability to move on their own at risk.
Two of the diseases that can affect this system include rickets and osteoporosis. In this article, we are going to explain the difference between Rickets and Osteoporosis.
What is Rickets?
This is a disorder of the skeletal system that is caused by a lack of calcium, vitamin D, or phosphate. All of these substances are vital for the development of strong, healthy bones. People who suffer from rickets have weak and soft bones, in addition to growth retardation, and in some serious cases, it can cause skeletal deformities.
This condition is much more common in children between 6 and 36 months of age.
Children are at higher risk of developing rickets because they are still growing. Children are more likely to not get enough vitamin D when they are exposed to little sunlight, eat a vegetarian diet, or do not eat enough dairy products. In some cases, it has been noted that this condition can be hereditary.
Some children are born with or later develop certain medical conditions that can affect the way their bodies use vitamin D. Some of these conditions include: cystic fibrosis, kidney problems, celiac disease, and inflammatory bowel disease.
Some of the signs and symptoms of rickets are:
- Significant growth retardation
- Pain in certain parts such as the pelvis, spine, and legs
- Muscular weakness
Because rickets softens the growth plates at the ends of a child’s bones, it can cause skeletal deformities such as:
- Bowed legs or knees
- thickened wrists and ankles
- sternum projection
What is Osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis, which means “porous bones,” is a condition that causes bones to gradually thin and weaken, leaving them susceptible to fractures. Although all bones can be affected by the disease, bones in the spine, hip, and wrist are more likely to break.
In older people, hip fractures can be particularly dangerous because the prolonged immobility required during the healing process can lead to blood clots or pneumonia, which can be fatal.
Although the exact cause of Rickets and Osteoporosis is unknown, the process by which bone becomes porous is well understood. Early in life, bone is continually being broken down and replaced, a process known as bone remodeling. Bone mass typically peaks in your mid to late 20s.
Although some loss of bone density is a natural part of aging, some women are at increased risk of developing very porous bones and bone fractures associated with osteoporosis. Women who are thin or have a small frame are at higher risk. Similarly, those who smoke, drink more than moderately or have a sedentary lifestyle.
Women with a family history of hip fractures and those who have had their ovaries removed, especially before the age of 40, are also more prone to the condition. White and Asian women are more affected than African American and Hispanic women.
Certain medical conditions that increase bone breakdown, such as kidney disease, Cushing’s syndrome, and an overactive thyroid or parathyroid, can also cause osteoporosis. Glucocorticoids, also known as steroids, also increase bone loss. Anti-seizure medications and prolonged immobility due to paralysis or illness can also cause bone loss.
What is the difference between Rickets and Osteoporosis?
In general terms, these two conditions describe the weakening of the bones; However, each of these conditions of the bone system is caused by different deficiencies in the body.
The lack of calcium minerals, although it is considered one of the most important characteristics in the clinical picture of rickets, should be clarified that this is not considered the main cause of this disease. The truth is that the condition is due to vitamin D deficiency. This vitamin works as a catalyst in the metabolism of calcium.
The excessive lack of calcium is considered one of the main causes of osteoporosis, however, although it is true that the loss of minerals in the body is a natural part of aging, specialists cannot say that this is the only cause. This is a difference between rickets and osteoporosis.
In general, children under 4 years of age suffer from rickets while bones are still growing. However, this condition is quite rare in tropical countries where children have good exposure to sunlight on a daily basis. In contrast to this, osteoporosis usually affects adults in whom the bones are already formed. Elderly women who have consumed lower amounts of calcium throughout their lives are the ones who are mostly affected by this condition.
Also, adults who live or have lived for long periods of time in industrialized countries, where foods often go through important chemical processes in which they can lose the natural components of their minerals.
Another notable difference between rickets and osteoporosis is that rickets causes a marked weakening as well as deformations of the bone structure of the patient. This can cause certain deformities that, consequently, could lead to motor disability for those who suffer from it. In addition to this, other of the most noticeable characteristics of this disease is the slow development of growth, lower muscle tone, protruding abdomen, and the development of arches in the legs.
Rickets and Osteoporosis symptoms are less noticeable; However, the weakening of the bones can lead to fractures, even for the slightest trauma, so it can be taken as a warning sign of the possibility of suffering from this chronic disease. In several cases, other conditions such as muscle contractions can be frequent, as well as sharp pains in the bones when performing any type of physical activity.
When it comes to treatment, both for patients with rickets and those diagnosed with osteoporosis, it is recommended to increase the intake of vitamins. Especially those related to bones such as Vitamin D and minerals such as calcium. To achieve an increase in this consumption, it is important to include foods that have these components in the diet, such as fish, liver, and dairy products.
However, when it comes to osteoporosis, it is recommended to take these supplements in capsule form. For its part, for patients with rickets, other supplements are suggested, such as syrups made from liver oil and changes in diet.
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