What Is Paget’s Disease of the Bone?
Paget’s disease of the bone causes bones to grow larger than normal and weaken, putting them at increased risk for fracture. Most commonly affecting the spine, skull, legs and pelvis, Paget’s disease is normally found in older people, especially men.
For most, bone growth diminishes with old age. When Paget’s disease causes abnormal bone growth, a variety of complications may follow, ranging from fractures to heart failure. Though the root cause of Paget’s disease is unknown, researchers are seeking a connection between Paget’s disease and the following:
- Environmental triggers
- Genetic predisposition to the disease
- Viral infection in bone cells
Before Paget’s disease results in broken bones or worse, less troublesome symptoms may appear, including:
- Bone deformity — As Paget’s causes bones to grow excessively, the affected bones may result in a visual bowing, particularly in the legs or spine. In the head, an enlarged skull may be noticeable.
- Hearing loss — Limited to cases of Paget’s disease in the skull, hearing loss may be experienced.
- Pain — Bones and joints attacked by Paget’s may begin to hurt early on, with the bones in the hips, knees and back typically affected. Additionally, those with Paget’s in the skull experience frequent headaches.
While incurable, Paget’s disease of the bone can be managed with appropriate treatment, which includes:
- Medication — There are medications available, the most effective is bisphosphonates, which prevent the ongoing progression of Paget’s disease and provide pain relief.
- Surgery — Surgical intervention may become necessary to remedy deformed or broken bones or damage from accompanying arthritis.
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