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January 2019

Bone Up on Your Knowledge of Paget Disease

Out with the old, in with the new. That’s the series of events that normal, healthy bone follows. Through a process called remodeling, your body removes old bone and replaces it with new bone. However, if you have Paget disease of bone, this process doesn’t go as usual.

Man sitting on couch holding his knee

Paget disease is a chronic bone disorder that causes bone to rebuild at an accelerated rate. The new bone has an abnormal structure and is often soft, weak, and may be much larger than normal. Paget disease can occur in any bone, but most often develops in the skull, spine, pelvis, and legs. It may involve all or part of a bone, and can affect one or several bones in your body.

Could you have the condition?

Many people with Paget disease don’t experience any symptoms or even know that they have it until a complication, such as a fracture, occurs. Others, however, may develop signs of the disease such as:

  • Bone pain

  • Arthritis in a joint near the affected bone

  • Bowing of the bone

  • Loss of sensation or motion if enlarged bone pinches nearby nerves

Doctors don’t know what causes Paget disease, but suspect it may be due to genetics or environmental factors. It occurs most frequently in adults age 55 and older and is slightly more common in men than women.

What you can do to feel better

While there’s no cure, many treatments are available that can reduce your symptoms or keep complications at bay. They include:

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen and aspirin to manage pain

  • Bisphosphonates, medicines that blocks a certain type of bone cell from absorbing bone

  • Surgery to treat complications such as bone fractures, deformities, or severe arthritis

Fortunately, most people with Paget disease are able to live normal, healthy lives. If you have Paget disease, work closely with your doctor. Together, you can find treatments that best control your symptoms and protect your mobility. 

Online Medical Reviewer: McDonough, Brian, MD
Date Last Reviewed: 11/1/2018
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