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Paget's Disease of the Bone

What is Paget's disease of the bone?

Paget's disease of the bone is a chronic bone disorder in which bones become enlarged and deformed. Bone may become dense, but fragile, because of excessive breakdown and deformation of bone. The disease is the most common bone disorder after osteoporosis in people over age 50.

What causes Paget's disease of the bone?

The exact cause of Paget's disease of the bone is unknown, but it is suggested to be due to a slow viral infection of bone and may include a heredity factor.

What are the symptoms of Paget's disease of the bone?

The following are the most common symptoms of Paget's disease of the bone. However, each individual may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:

  • Pain in the affected area

  • Bone deformity in the affected area

  • Susceptibility to fractures in the affected area

  • Arthritis

Very rarely, Paget's disease may progress to bone cancer.

The symptoms of Paget's disease of the bone may resemble other bone disorders or medical problems. Always consult your physician for a diagnosis.

How is Paget's disease of the bone diagnosed?

In addition to a complete medical history and physical examination, diagnostic procedures for Paget's disease of the bone may include the following:

  • X-ray - a diagnostic test which uses invisible electromagnetic energy beams to produce images of internal tissues, bones, and organs onto film.

  • Blood tests

  • A bone-specific alkaline phosphatase test - a test that involves measuring the levels of alkaline phosphatase (an enzyme found throughout the body) in the bone. Any condition of bone growth or an increased activity of bone cells, including Paget's disease, will cause alkaline phosphatase levels to rise.

  • Radionuclide bone scan - a nuclear imaging technique that uses a very small amount of radioactive material, which is injected into the patient's bloodstream to be detected by a scanner. This test shows blood flow to the bone and cell activity within the bone.

Treatment for Paget's disease of the bone:

Specific treatment for Paget's disease of the bone will be determined by your physician based on:

  • Your age, overall health, and medical history

  • Extent of the disease

  • Your tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies

  • Expectations for the course of the disease

  • Your opinion or preference

Treatment may include:

  • Physical therapy to improve muscle strength

  • Medications called bisphosphonates to inhibit abnormal bone resorption

  • Medication to manage pain

  • Surgery to cut, realign, or replace affected bone

Online Resources

American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons  http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=a00076
National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases  http://www.niams.nih.gov/health_info/bone/pagets/diagnosed.asp
NIH Osteoporosis and Related Bone Diseases National Resource Center  http://www.niams.nih.gov/health_info/bone/pagets/overview.asp
National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases  http://www.niams.nih.gov/health_info/bone/pagets/pagets_osteoarthritis.asp

© 2000-2011 Krames StayWell, 780 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.