Paget's Disease

Definition

Paget's disease is a bone condition that results in enlarged and deformed bones. It is a long-term condition. Any bone in the body can be affected. However, the most common sites are the spine, skull, pelvis, thighs, and lower legs.

Normal Bone Structure
Bone Matrix
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Causes

Paget's disease is caused by a malfunction in bone formation. Normally, bones are constantly being broken down and rebuilt. With Paget's disease, bones are broken down abnormally fast, and new bone replacement is loose and bulky, instead of strong and compact. These poorly formed bones may become weak. They also may bend over time.

The exact cause of this bone malformation is unknown. Paget's disease may be triggered early in life by a viral infection.

Risk Factors

Paget's disease is more common in people who:

  • Have a family history, especially in a parent, sibling, or child
  • Are of Northern European decent
  • Are aged 55 years or older
  • Smoke

Symptoms

Most people with Paget's disease don't have symptoms. For those with symptoms, Paget's disease may cause:

  • Chronic bone pain, especially legs, hips, or spine
  • Swelling or deformity of a limb
  • Broken bones
  • Bowing of a limb
  • Damaged cartilage in the joints

Paget's disease that involves the skull may cause:

  • Increased head size
  • Headaches
  • Facial pain
  • Hearing loss

Paget's disease doesn't spread to other bones, but the symptoms do get worse over time.

Diagnosis

Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Your doctor will order a blood test.

Imaging tests take pictures of internal body structures. These are done with:

Treatment

It is best to begin treatment as soon as possible. Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you.

Medication

Medications for Paget's disease include:

  • Pain medications, such as acetaminophen, or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • Bisphosphonates
  • Calcitonin

Surgery

Surgery may be required if you have one of the following conditions:

  • Bone fracture
  • Severe degenerative arthritis
  • Bone deformity

Self-Care

Recommendations include:

  • Calcium, usually about 1,000-1,500 mg per day
  • Intake of adequate vitamin D, usually about 400 mg per day (older people may need more)
  • Regular exercise to maintain skeletal health, joint mobility, and normal body weight
  • Avoidance of excess mechanical stress on involved bones
  • A splint for an area at high risk for fracture

Prevention

There are no current guidelines to prevent the onset of Paget's disease. People with primary family members who have Paget's disease are encouraged to have a blood test every 2-3 years after age 40.

Revisions

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This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.

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