Signs and symptoms of rickets 

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

The signs and symptoms of rickets can include:

  • pain  the bones affected by rickets can be sore and painful, so the child may be reluctant to walk or may tire easily; the child's walk may look different (waddling)
  • skeletal deformities – thickening of the ankles, wrists and knees, bowed legs, soft skull bones and, rarely, bending of the spine
  • dental problems – including weak tooth enamel, delay in teeth coming through and increased risk of cavities
  • poor growth and development – if the skeleton doesn't grow and develop properly, the child will be shorter than average
  • fragile bones – in severe cases, the bones become weaker and more prone to fractures

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

Some children with rickets may also have low levels of calcium in their blood (hypocalcaemia). This can make the symptoms of rickets worse and can also cause muscle cramps, twitching, tingling in the hands and feet, and fits.

When to seek medical advice

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


Page last reviewed: 21/12/2015

Next review due: 31/05/2018