Rickets - Treatment 

Treating rickets 

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

Vitamin D and calcium levels 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 GP 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.

See preventing rickets for more information about dietary sources of vitamin D and calcium, as well as advice about getting vitamin D from sunlight.

Treating complications and related conditions

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' functions).

If your child has a bone deformity caused by rickets, such as bowed legs or curvature of the spine, your GP may suggest treatment to correct it. This might be a brace to support the affected area of your child’s body as their bones grow, or they may need surgery.

Genetic rickets

For hypophosphatemic rickets (where a genetic defect causes abnormalities in the way the kidneys and bones deal with phosphate), a combination of phosphate supplements and a special form of vitamin D is required.

Children with other types of genetic rickets need very large amounts of a special type of vitamin D treatment.

Supplement side effects

It is very unusual to get side effects from vitamin D, calcium or phosphate supplements if they are given in the correct dose.

However, if the dose of vitamin D or calcium is too high, it can raise calcium levels in the blood. This can result in a condition called hypercalcaemia. Symptoms of hypercalcaemia include:

See your GP immediately if you or your child has any of these symptoms.


Page last reviewed: 19/12/2013

Next review due: 19/12/2015

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The 2 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

Rabidfan said on 10 June 2014

I suggest that you make a separate entry for osteomalacia. There are parts of the country (eg NW England) where it is quite common.

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sowhat said on 24 May 2013

I suggest you google and look at another UK website often recommended by medical professionals for treatment as it provides more information.

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Osteomalacia

If you have osteomalacia (the adult form of rickets that causes soft bones), treatment with supplements will usually cure the condition. However, it may be several months before any bone pain and muscle weakness is relieved.

You should continue taking vitamin D supplements regularly to prevent the condition returning.

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