What is Paget’s disease?
Paget's disease is a chronic condition that affects your bones. First line treatments for Paget's disease include medications, surgery, joint replacement, diet and exercise.
While there is no cure for Paget’s disease, treatment can help ease the discomfort associated with the disorder. With early diagnosis, it is possible to maintain a good quality of life while living with its effects.
Paget’s disease is a chronic disorder that affects your bones. Over time, your bones have a process of breaking down and regrowing. If you have Paget’s disease, this process happens excessively.
Since the regrowth of bone occurs at a higher rate than usual, your bones become larger and softer or weaker than they should be. As a result, your bones may become misshapen and easily fracture.
There are two types of Paget’s disease:
- Monostotic – when a single bone is affected by the disease
- Polyostotic – when multiple bones are affected by the disease
Causes of Paget’s disease
Scientists have not yet narrowed down the origins of Paget’s disease enough to know what causes the disorder. However, in 30% of cases, more than one member in a family suffers from the disease, so it is likely to be hereditary. Similarly, it is most prevalent in people who are of European descent.
While it hasn’t been proven, some scientists think Paget’s disease may be affected by exposure to certain viruses, like measles. In some instances, it does appear to be — at least partially — due to heredity, perhaps when triggered by exposure to a virus. However, more study is needed.
Who can get Paget’s disease?
Paget’s disease can affect anyone, but people over the age of 65 are the most diagnosed population. If you have a family member who has been diagnosed, you are likely at risk for a diagnosis as you get older.
How do you know you have Paget’s disease?
Paget’s disease progresses slowly, and so you may not know that you have it at first. This is especially true in monostotic (single-bone) cases, since only one bone in your body has the disease, while the rest of your bones go unaffected.
Aside from the affected bones being large or misshapen, you may not experience other symptoms. However, common symptoms appear similar to those of arthritis and include:
- Pain in your affected bones
- Headaches and hearing loss if your skull is the bone affected
- Pressure on your nerves
- Increase in head size
- Bowing of a limb or curving of your spine
- Damage to your joints