Idiopathic Juvenile Osteoporosis (IJO)

Idiopathic Juvenile Osteoporosis (IJO) is a primary condition of no known cause and is diagnosed after other causes of juvenile osteoporosis have been excluded , including primary diseases or medical therapies known to cause bone loss.

This rare form of osteoporosis typically occurs in previously healthy children just before the onset of puberty around 7 years of age with a range of 1 to 13 years and fortunately most children experience a complete recovery of bone.

The first sign of IJO is usually pain in the lower back, hips, and feet, often accompanied by difficulty walking and there may also be knee and ankle pain and fractures of the lower extremities. Physical malformations also may be present such as abnormal curvature of the upper spine (kyphosis), loss of height, a sunken chest, or a limp.

These physical malformations are sometimes reversible after the IJO has run its course and while there is no established medical or surgical therapy for juvenile osteoporosis, in some cases, there may be no need for treatment because the condition usually goes away spontaneously.

However, early diagnosis of juvenile osteoporosis is important so that steps can be taken to protect the child's spine and other bones from fracture until remission occurs. This may include physical therapy, using crutches, avoiding unsafe weight-bearing activities, and other supportive care.

A well-balanced diet rich in calcium and vitamin D is also important and in severe, long-lasting cases of juvenile osteoporosis, some medications called bisphosphonates, approved for the treatment of osteoporosis in adults, have been given to children experimentally.

Most children with IJO experience a complete recovery of bone tissue and although growth may be somewhat impaired during the acute phase of the disorder, normal growth resumes - and catch-up growth often occurs - afterward.

Unfortunately, in some cases, IJO can result in permanent disability such as curvature of the upper spine (kyphoscoliosis) or a collapse of the rib cage.


Further Reading

Last Updated: Aug 12, 2009

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