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
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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.
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
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
- Facial pain
- Hearing loss
Paget's disease doesn't spread to other bones, but the symptoms do get worse over time.
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:
- Bone scan
It is best to begin treatment as soon as possible. Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you.
Medications for Paget's disease include:
- Pain medications, such as acetaminophen, or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
Surgery may be required if you have one of the following conditions:
- Bone fracture
- Severe degenerative arthritis
- Bone deformity
- 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
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.
Content was created using EBSCO’s Health Library. Edits to original content made by Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia. This information is not a substitute for professional medical advice.