OI treatments are designed to prevent or control symptoms and vary from person to person. Early intervention is important to ensure optimal quality of life and outcomes. Treatment for OI and its related symptoms may include:
Casting, splinting, and bracing fractured bones can help them heal properly. However, bones may weaken if they are held in one place for long periods. Health care providers try to strike a balance between healing fractures and maintaining bone strength.
Physical therapy aims to maintain functioning in as many aspects of life as possible. A usual program combines muscle strengthening with aerobic conditioning. Many children with OI have delayed motor skills because their muscles are weak. A physical rehabilitation program can include strengthening of deltoids, biceps, and important lower muscles, such as the gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, and trunk extensors. When these muscles are strong, children can lift their arms and legs against the pull of gravity and get around independently.1
For some people with OI, wearing braces on the legs can provide support for weak muscles, decrease pain, and keep joints properly aligned. Braces can allow people to get around and function more easily.
Some people with OI undergo surgery to correct bone deformities, including scoliosis and basilar invagination. A common surgical procedure for OI patients, “rodding,” is the placement of metal rods in the long bones of the legs. This strengthens them and helps prevent fractures. Some rods get longer as the legs grow. But they also can work their way out of the bone.1 Surgery can also be performed to improve hearing loss.
Bisphosphonates (pronounced bis-FOS-foh-neyts) are drugs used to treat osteoporosis. They also are useful for OI, especially in children. These drugs do not build new bone, but they slow the loss of existing bone. They have been shown to reduce vertebral compressions and some long bone fractures.2 However, controlled trials show no improvement in motor skill or decrease in bone pain.3
Treatments for Related Conditions
Although these treatments are not specifically for OI, individuals with OI might rely on the following to address conditions related to OI:
- Hearing aids for hearing loss
- Crowns and similar dental devices for brittle teeth
- Oxygen administration for people with lung problems4
- Marini, J. (2010). Osteogenesis imperfecta. In F. Singer (Ed.), Diseases of bone and metabolism. Retrieved May 29, 2012, from http://www.endotext.org/parathyroid/parathyroid17/parathyroidframe17.htm [top]
- National Library of Medicine. (2011).Osteogenesis imperfecta. Retrieved May 7, 2012, from http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/001573.htm [top]
- Marini, J. C. (2009). Bone: Use of bisphosphonates in children—proceed with caution. Nature Reviews. Endocrinology, 5(5), 241–243. PMID: 19444252 [top]
- Marini, J.C ., Letocha, A. D., & Chernoff, E. J. (2005). Osteogenesis imperfecta. In S. B. Cassidy & J. E. Allanson (Eds.), Management of genetic syndromes. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley. [top]