Since there is no cure for OI, the main purpose of any treatment plan is to improve the quality of life for the patient. Though bone fractures can and will occur, the right preventive measures will keep these to a minimum. In most cases, the methods are nonsurgical and aimed at giving those with OI a maximum degree of mobility and independence.
Muscle strength and bone mass can be increased through therapy (though patients can't overcome bone weakness). If properly tailored to an individual's symptoms and age, exercise can improve mobility and help prevent future fractures. Maintaining a healthy weight can also cut down on bone stress. Swimming is an ideal form of exercise for those with OI since it offers exertion without putting much stress on the limbs.
Good nutrition is very important for people with OI. A registered dietitian can help create a diet that both strengthens bones against fractures and decreases the time it takes for breaks to heal. Vitamin D and calcium are very important for ensuring bone strength, as are avoiding steroids and large amounts of caffeine or alcohol.
Doctors sometimes perform a surgery called rodding to help strengthen long bones against fracture and prevent or correct deformities. This involves implanting metal rods to run along the lengths of the bones. To help growing children, these rods can be expanded to keep pace with developing bones. Doctors sometimes perform surgery to stabilize the spine in cases that could lead to the development of scoliosis.
Aside from various medications used to treat the pain associated with bone fractures, doctors can prescribe bisphosphonates to help increase bone density. The drug slows down the rate at which osteoclasts break down old bone, with no effect on the osteoblasts building new bone tissue. Currently, doctors are experimenting with other similar medications, as well as human growth hormones and gene therapy.
There's more to living with OI than just exercise, diet, surgery and medication. In the next section, learn about some of the additional challenges people with OI face and how they work to overcome them.