Osteogenesis imperfecta is a genetic disorder that makes bones more likely to break. “Bristle bone disease” is another name for the condition. The symptoms can range from mild to very severe. It doesn’t happen very often, and people who have it usually get better using osteogenesis imperfecta natural remedies. Up to 50,000 people in the United States have been diagnosed with this condition.
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There is no cure for the disease, but conventional and natural therapies can help people keep their bones from breaking and help them heal faster.
In this post, we discuss osteogenesis imperfecta natural remedies.
What is Osteogenesis Imperfecta?
Osteogenesis imperfecta means imperfectly formed bones. It is a genetic disorder that makes the bones weak and brittle. In most cases, the disease is mild, and a person may only break a few bones in their whole life. In some other cases, the condition is very bad, and people can have hundreds of breaks over the course of their lives.
For a child to have osteogenesis imperfecta, one or both parents must pass on a faulty gene. However, the condition can also happen on its own. That means that a mutation in the osteogenesis imperfecta gene can happen by accident, so someone can have the disease even if neither parent gave them a bad gene. It happens just as often to men and women of all races and ethnicities. Six or seven out of every 100,000 people have it.
The condition happens when the mutated gene doesn’t tell the body to make enough type I collagen or to make collagen that is good enough. Type I collagen is a protein that helps build connective tissue, such as the tissue in bones, ligaments, teeth, and the whites of the eyes.
The life expectancy of people with osteogenesis imperfecta is normal or close to normal. But this is not true for people with Type 2 diabetes (see below), which can kill before or soon after birth.
Types of Osteogenesis Imperfecta
Osteogenesis imperfecta has four major types or groups, but the disease does not get worse from Type 1 to Type 4. The National Institutes of Health says that there are eight different kinds. Type 1 is the mildest, Types 4, 5, and 6 are moderate, and Types 2, 3, 7, and 8 are severe. Other uncommon types have symptoms and severity that fall between the four most common types.
Osteogenesis Imperfecta Type 1
Type 1, or Type I, is the mildest and most common form of the disease. In this form, collagen structure is normal, but not enough of it is made. The bones are fragile and break easily, but they don’t look deformed. Their eyes may also be gray, blue, or purple (the white part of the eyeball). Some people with Type 1 also have teeth problems, like many cavities or broken teeth.
Osteogenesis imperfecta Type 2
Type 2, also called Type II, is the worst form of osteogenesis imperfecta, and it often kills babies and young children. Some babies even break bones while they are still in the womb. This kind of disease happens when collagen isn’t made right, so it doesn’t have the right structure to hold bones and other connective tissue together.
Type 3 of Osteogenesis Imperfecta
Type 3 or Type III osteogenesis imperfecta is a condition that causes intense bone deformities. It happens when collagen doesn’t stick together right. Fractures are very common, and some bones are already broken when babies are born. This type of disease can also cause discolored sclerae, short height, spine deformities like scoliosis, trouble breathing, and teeth that break easily. This kind of disease gets worse as time goes on. As the child ages, hearing loss and deformities often get worse, making it hard for the child to move.
Osteogenesis imperfecta Type 4
Type 4 or Type IV also has collagen that isn’t made right, which makes bones weak. But it is considered to be of moderate severity because the bone deformities may not be as bad, and the sclera isn’t discolored. People with osteogenesis type IV may also be shorter than average and have teeth that are easy to break.
Symptoms and Signs of Osteogenesis Imperfecta
The following are signs of osteogenesis imperfecta:
- Deformed or misshapen bones
- Frequent bone breaks and fracture
- Weak muscles
- Loose joints
- Cracked teeth
- Sclerae can be blue, purple, or gray.
- A barrel-shaped rib cage
- Face with a triangle shape
- Curved backbone
- People often start having trouble hearing in their 20s or 30s.
Blue sclerae are often the first sign of osteogenesis imperfecta in babies who don’t have any other bone problems. But osteogenesis imperfecta can’t be diagnosed without a series of tests, such as blood or skin tests, X-rays and other imaging, a family and medical history, and a physical exam.
Causes and Risk Factors of Osteogenesis Imperfecta
Osteogenesis imperfecta is caused by genes. It can be passed down (if one or both parents have a bad gene) or happen on its own (it happens randomly). In either case, this makes it hard to make collagen, a protein that keeps bones and other tissues together.
If you have osteogenesis imperfecta, there is a 50 percent chance that each of your children will also have the condition. Even so, up to 35% of people with the condition do not have a family history of it. Only having a family member with the disease or having a gene for the disease is a real risk factor for osteogenesis imperfecta.
Osteogenesis Imperfecta Treatment
In the past, surgeries were used to fix bone deformities caused by this group of bone diseases. Now that doctors know more about brittle bone disease and have found drugs that can help improve bone health and other symptoms, surgery is only done when it will help a person move or function better. Typical osteogenesis treatment often consists of:
- Use of Wheelchairs, walking aids, and other mobility aids.
- Orthotics, like braces, are used to support loose joints and keep them from breaking or getting worse.
- Bisphosphonates, like pamidronate, can help strengthen bones and keep them from breaking. It may also reduce pain, make you taller, and give you more energy.
- Painkillers for people with broken bones or pain caused by a deformity or a lack of mobility
- Rods, pins, and wires are used in surgery to keep bones stable and prevent breaks and deformities.
Most people with osteogenesis imperfecta are also told what to eat and how to exercise to help their bones grow, keep them from breaking, and improve their health as a whole.
Osteogenesis Imperfecta Natural Remedies
People with osteogenesis imperfecta need to be taken care of by doctors for all but the mildest cases. This is the best way to treat the condition and keep as many complications from happening as possible. But there are many natural ways to deal with some of the symptoms of osteogenesis imperfecta, such as:
Work closely with a dietitian
People with osteogenesis imperfecta need to pay close attention to what they eat. It’s important to make sure you get enough of the nutrients that help bones grow and heal. Also, many people with serious diseases have trouble eating solid foods, have low appetites, or need different amounts of calories because of their size, deformities, or level of physical activity. People with osteogenesis imperfecta may be more likely to have constipation, trouble eating solid foods, failure to thrive, malnutrition, obesity, and other weight control problems.
You should talk to a dietitian who is familiar with the needs of someone with osteogenesis imperfecta. This is usually covered by insurance, and you may need regular visits, especially when you are an infant, child, or teen.
You can expect to talk to the nutritionist about how active you are, what foods you like to eat, how your teeth are doing and any symptoms, how hungry you are, and how your digestive system is doing.
Most likely, the dietitian will work with you to:
- Find out how much you should be eating and how many calories you should be eating each day.
- Find out if you don’t have enough of any nutrients (for example, calcium and vitamin D)
- Make a personal diet plan for yourself.
- A high-fiber diet can help with things like constipation.
- Help children who have been on milk and pureed foods for a long time because they can’t swallow solid foods.
- Refer you to other health professionals, for example, to find out if you have trouble swallowing, acid reflux, growth, weight management, or malnutrition.
Help bones heal faster
People with osteogenesis imperfecta often break bones, so it makes sense that they would want to find ways to help their bones heal as quickly as possible. Follow these simple tips on diet and self-care to help your bones heal:
- Follow the advice of your nutritionist and eat a diet high in calcium and vitamin C.
- Ask your doctor if it is safe for you to take more vitamin K. Both vitamin K1 and vitamin K2 help your blood clot and help your body make new bones. You can get a lot of vitamin K from foods like kale, spinach, other leafy greens, broccoli, dairy, and kefir.
- You might want to eat more zinc, which helps set things in motion for building new bones. Beef, spinach, and pumpkin seeds all have zinc in them.
- Take in more omega-3 fatty acids. Your body can heal wounds and reduce inflammation with the help of healthy fats.
- Don’t eat or drink things that make your bones weak. This includes things like alcohol, salt, sugar, refined grains, soda, and other drinks with added sugar and caffeine. These can lead to bone loss and make healing take longer.
Learn how to treat broken bones
If you or someone you care about has osteogenesis imperfecta, it’s important to know how to treat a broken or fractured bone:
- Stop any blood loss
- Use a splint or sling or have the person lie still to keep the broken bone from moving.
- Wrap ice in a cloth and put it on for 10 minutes at a time.
- Call 911 or get them to a hospital emergency room.
- Help them stay calm by saying things that reassure them and making sure they are warm and comfortable.
Manage pain naturally
The Osteogenesis Imperfecta Foundation says that broken bones, deformities, and other symptoms of the disease can cause both short-term and long-term pain that can be helped in a number of ways, both medical and non-medical. These include:
- Warm showers and heat packs can help ease stiff muscles and long-term pain.
- Packs of ice can ease pain and reduce swelling.
- Electrical currents are used in Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) to block pain signals and control swelling.
- Exercise with the help of a physical therapist or a doctor who specializes in osteogenesis imperfecta. Low-impact exercise can help relieve pain, build strength, and improve mobility and posture.
- Acupuncture and acupressure to relieve pain
- For sore muscles and pain spots, a gentle massage can help.
The OI Foundation also says that you can use your brain to deal with both short-term and long-term pain. This is called psychological pain management. Some of the ways they suggest:
- Formal relaxation training, which includes slow, deep breathing to relieve stress and pain
- Biofeedback was first done with a professional, and then it was done on its own.
- Visualization or distraction techniques can help you pay attention to things that take your mind off the pain.
- Hypnosis can help you feel less pain.
- Psychotherapy can help people deal with depression, anger, and other feelings caused by long-term pain and illness.
Use assistive devices
Many people with moderate or severe osteogenesis imperfecta can get around the house and go to other places without a lot of help. People can often do their best work when they use tools to help them work around their physical limitations. This is a fairly new idea for people with severe osteogenesis imperfecta. For many years, healthcare providers did not expect or encourage people with severe osteogenesis imperfecta to learn how to take care of themselves.
Some examples of adaptive or helping devices are:
- Canes, walkers, or crutches
- Pillows and where to put them
- Seat elevators
- Car pedals and pillows made to order
- Step stools
- Ramps and handrails or grab bars
- Aids for hearing
- Blenders or feeding tubes
Physical and occupational therapy
Physical and occupational therapy programs can help people with osteogenesis imperfecta get around better and build muscle strength. Work with a specialist in rehabilitation who knows about osteogenesis imperfecta.
- Depending on your age and physical abilities, you can expect the following types of physical therapy exercises:
- Swimming, pool aerobics, or lifting weights
- Walking, using a walker, or driving a wheelchair on your own
- Work on your muscles
The goal of occupational therapy is to help people become more independent and improve their motor skills. As they get older and start school or work, they might need it. Or it may be needed if a deformity gets worse or if a broken bone is healing. Occupational therapists are able to help with things like:
- Getting in and out of bed or a wheelchair (transferring)
- lifting things safely
- Getting around with a new cast or walker
- Self-grooming and taking a bath
- preparing food
Osteogenesis imperfecta is a genetic disease that causes bones to break easily. It is also called “brittle bone disease.” There is no known cure. However, with osteogenesis imperfecta natural remedies, the condition can be managed. Conventional treatments include medicines to help bones grow and ease pain, as well as braces, surgery, and changes to the home to make it easier to move around. Overall, the outlook for people with mild forms of osteogenesis imperfecta is good. These people may not even know they have the disease or may only break a few bones in their lives.