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All about Paget's disease of the bone causes of Paget's disease of the bone risk factors for Paget's disease of the bone complications of Paget's disease of the bone symptoms of Paget's disease of the bone diagnosis of Paget's disease treatment for 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. Named for Sir James Paget (1814-1899), this disease affects 1-3% of people over 50 years of age, but affects over 10% of people over 80 years of age. Paget's disease is the second most common bone disorder in people over 50, after osteoporosis. It is rarely diagnosed in young adults.

Paget's disease can affect one or more bones in the body. Most often, the pelvis, bones in the skull, the long bones (the large bones that make up the arms and legs), and the collarbones are affected by Paget's disease. In addition, the joints between bones (the knees or elbows, for example) can develop arthritis because of this condition.

Normally, cells that break down old bone (osteoclasts) and cells that form new bone (osteoblasts) work in balance to maintain bone structure and integrity. In Paget's disease, both osteoclasts and osteoblasts become overactive in some areas of bone, and the rate at which bone is broken down and rebuilt in these areas increases tremendously. The overactive areas enlarge but are structurally abnormal and therefore weaker than normal areas. In Paget's disease, more bone breaks down than usual and more new bone forms than usual. These changes in the bone can lead to bone enlargement and deformity. The new bone growth tends to be softer and more fragile than normal bone, and can develop in a haphazard pattern. Because of this, the bone can fracture. The long bones, especially the legs, tend to bow, and the skull may enlarge, particularly over the forehead.

Paget's disease can cause bones to weaken and may result in bone pain, arthritis, bone deformities and fractures. Paget's disease is characterized by changes in the normal mechanism of bone formation. Bone is a living material made by the body through the continual processes of formation and breakdown (resorption). The combination of these two actions is called remodeling and is used by the body to build bone tissue that is strong and healthy. Strong bones are formed when bone tissue is made up of plate-shaped crystals of minerals called hydroxyapatite. Normal wear and tear on the skeletal system is repaired throughout life by the ongoing process of remodeling. In fact, the entire human skeleton is remodeled every five years.

Paget's disease causes abnormal bone growth. Normally bone is constantly being broken down and rebuilt. In the early stages of Paget's disease, bone is broken down more quickly than it is rebuilt. To try to keep up with this breakdown of bone, the body speeds up the bone rebuilding process. However, this new bone is often weak and brittle, causing it to break more easily. Paget's disease most often affects the bones in the pelvis, spine, skull, chest, and legs. Most cases of Paget's disease do not cause symptoms. However, the most common symptoms, when they occur, are bone pain and deformed bones (bowed legs, enlarged skull or hips, or a curved backbone).

More information on 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. Paget's disease causes abnormal bone growth.
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.
Risk factors for Paget's disease of the bone - Age and heredity are the only known risk factors for Paget's disease. Men and women are affected at similar rates.
Complications of Paget's disease of the bone - Complications of Paget's disease of the bone include osteoarthritis, fractures, nerve compression, heart failure, bone cancer (osteogenic sarcoma).
Symptoms of Paget's disease of the bone - Paget's disease usually produces no symptoms, although bone pain, bone enlargement, or bone deformity may occur.
How is Paget's disease of the bone diagnosed? - A diagnosis of Paget's disease can be made when higher than normal levels of a chemical called alkaline phosphatase are found in the blood.
What is the treatment for Paget's disease? - Paget's disease is most often treated with bisphosphonate drugs combined with additional drugs to lessen bone pain.
Bone, joint, & muscle disorders

Topics in bone, joint, and muscle disorders

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Bone tumors
Bone cancer
Muscle diseases
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Dupuytren's contracture
Costochondritis
Bunions
Plantar fasciitis
Arthritis
Osteoarthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis
Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis
Septic arthritis (infectious Arthritis)
Psoriatic arthritis
Reiter's syndrome (reactive arthritis)
Ankylosing spondylitis
Gout (gouty arthritis)
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Osteoporosis
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