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Paget's Disease of the Bone

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
  • headache (if the affected area is the skull)
  • hearing loss (if the affected area is the skull)

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 the alkaline phosphatase levels (an enzyme found throughout the body) in the bone being measured; 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:

  • medication that inhibits abnormal bone resorption
  • surgery
  • physical therapy
  • arthroplasty of the hip (total joint replacement)
  • cutting and realignment of affected bone

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