Paget’s disease of bone: Symptoms, causes, and treatment

Paget’s disease is the second most common type of bone disease after osteoporosis. It is a disorder of the bone remodeling process, in which the body absorbs old bone and forms abnormal new bone.

Abnormal bone can result from errors in the bone remodeling process.

The body of a person with Paget’s disease might generate new bone in incorrect locations or remove old bone from its intended areas.

This process can lead to weakness in the bones, bone pain, arthritis, deformities, and fractures. Many people with Paget’s disease do not realize that they have it, as symptoms are often either mild or undetectable.

If a person with Paget’s disease fractures a bone, it may take a long time to heal because of faults in the bone renewal process.

In this article, we explore the symptoms, causes, and treatments for Paget’s disease, including possible options for surgery.

Symptoms

joint pain
Paget’s disease of the bone can cause joint pain but is often symptomless.

Many people are not aware that they have Paget’s disease because they do not experience symptoms.

They might also mistake any symptoms for other bone disorders, such as arthritis.

The most common symptoms that occur relate to bone or joint pain. Other symptoms include swelling of joints, tenderness, or redness of the skin that covers the areas affected by Paget’s disease.

Some people only become aware of their presentation of Paget’s disease after experiencing a fracture in a weakened bone.

Paget’s disease most commonly occurs in the following bones:

the pelvis

the spine

the skull

the femur, or thighbone

the tibia, or shin bone.

Many major nerves in the body run through or alongside the bones, so abnormal bone growth might cause a bone to compress, pinch, or damage a nerve, triggering pain.

Complications

While the outlook for people with Paget’s disease is generally good, it might lead to other health problems, including:

arthritis

hearing loss

heart disease

nervous system issues

Paget’s sarcoma, a type of cancer that occurs in 1 percent of people with Paget’s disease

loose teeth

vision problems

To connection is clear between Paget’s disease of the bone and osteoporosis, despite several medications a doctor might prescribe to treat both and a tendency to weaken bones.

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Causes

Researchers are yet to definitively establish the cause of Paget’s disease.

Paget’s disease appears to run in families. According to the American College of Rheumatology, more than one family member has the disorder in 30 percent of cases.

Another suggestion is that the disorder possibly occurs due to infection by the measles virus during childhood. Recent studies put forward that measles might alter the mechanism of bone formation, leading to Paget’s disease.

However, researchers have not yet uncovered a clear connection between the virus and Paget’s disease.

Evidence suggests that the number of people with Paget’s disease has been decreasing over the last 25 years. Some scientists have linked the increase in vaccination in many countries and the resulting drop in the number of people with measles to falling rates of Paget’s disease.

How common is Paget’s disease?

Around 1 million people in the United States have Paget’s disease.

Paget’s disease tends to occur in older adults as well as people from Northern Europe. The disorder occurs in three men to every two women with Paget’s disease.

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