If you have Paget’s disease, or you think you might have, it can be frightening. The name of the disease itself can be petrifying. This disease is not known to most people because it is relatively rare. Scientists are still researching and finding treatments to cure this disease.

Currently, there’s no known cure. However, the disease can be managed and treated. In this article, we’ll understand the basics of Paget’s disease and how it can be treated and managed. We aim to provide you with everything you need to know about this bone disease.

About Paget's Disease of Bone

Paget’s disease of bone is a chronic condition that affects the way your bones grow and reform. It causes some areas of your bones to break down faster than normal while other areas grow larger and become weaker over time. This can lead to pain, deformity, fractures, and other complications. There is no cure for Paget’s disease, but there are treatments that can help to relieve the symptoms and slow down the progression of the disease.

What Happens in Paget's Disease?

Your bones are constantly changing throughout your life. Cells called osteoclasts break down old bone tissue, and cells called osteoblasts create new bones to replace it.[1]

At the onset of the disease, more bones break down. As it progresses, old bones are removed and replaced by new ones. However, the new bones form incorrectly resulting in abnormal size and shape, and tend to be weak and soft. These bones are prone to breaking or deforming.[2]

Who Gets Paget's Disease?

Paget’s disease is more common in older people, especially those over 50 years old. It affects both men and women, but men are slightly more likely to have it. It is also more common in certain ethnic groups like people of British, Anglo-Saxon, or Central European descent.[3]

The exact number of people with Paget’s disease is not known, but it is estimated that about 1% or less of adults in the United States have it.

Which Bones Are Affected By Paget ’s Disease of the Bone?

Paget’s disease can affect any bone in your body, but some bones are more likely to be affected than others. The most commonly affected bones are the pelvis, spine, skull, femur (thigh), tibia (shin), and humerus (upper arm). Sometimes, only one bone is affected, but more often, several bones are involved. The disease can also spread among different bones over time.[3]

Symptoms and Signs of Paget's Disease

At first, people with Paget’s disease do not develop any symptoms or signs. Blood tests or an X-ray might show that a person has the disease. However, as the disease progresses, a variety of symptoms may manifest.

According to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, common symptoms of Paget’s disease include pain in the affected bone, limbs taking on a bent, bow shape, and curvature of the spine. When the disease affects the spine, it can cause tingling and numbness; if it affects the skull, it can cause headaches. However, other simple bone pain causes, like joint problems don’t necessarily indicate that you have Paget’s disease.[4]

Depending on which bones are affected, other symptoms may appear like arthritis around the affected bones, hearing loss, heart failure (in people who already have heart disease), pressure and reduced blood flow in the brain, and loose teeth. In rare cases, Paget’s disease may also cause bone cancer.

What Causes Paget’s Disease of the Bone?

The exact cause of Paget’s disease is not known. However, it tends to be genetic and runs in families. About 15% to 40% of people with Paget’s disease have close relatives who also have it. Researchers have identified several genes that may increase the risk of developing Paget’s disease.[2]

What are the Possible Complications of Paget’s Disease?

1. Bone expansion

When the affected bones grow larger, they can interfere with the normal function of nearby organs or tissues. For example, if the skull is affected, it can cause headaches, facial pain, sinus problems, or dental issues. The expansion may also make your bones ache.

2. Fractures

The weakened bones can break easily and cause pain, disability, infection, or bleeding. Fractures can also lead to other complications such as nerve damage, blood clots, or osteomyelitis (bone infection).

3. Nerve compression

The enlarged bones can press nearby nerves and cause symptoms such as numbness, tingling, weakness, or pain in the affected area. For example, if the spine is affected, it can cause severe back pain, leg pain, bladder or bowel problems, sexual dysfunction, or paralysis.

4. Deafness

If the skull is affected, it can compress the nerves that control hearing and cause deafness or hearing loss. This can affect your ability to communicate and socialize with others. It can also increase your risk of accidents or injuries due to reduced awareness of your surroundings.

5. Osteoarthritis

The abnormal bone growth can damage the cartilage that cushions the joints and cause osteoarthritis. This can lead to joint pain, stiffness, swelling, reduced range of motion, and difficulty moving. Osteoarthritis can also increase your risk of falls and fractures due to reduced balance and stability.

6. Tumors

In rare cases, Paget’s disease can increase the risk of developing benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous) tumors in the affected bones. These tumors can cause pain, swelling, bleeding, or fractures. They can also spread to other parts of the body and cause life-threatening complications.

How is Paget’s Disease Diagnosed?

If you have symptoms or signs of Paget’s disease, you should see your doctor for a diagnosis. Your doctor may examine you and check for any bone deformities or tenderness. A battery of tests will also confirm the diagnosis and assess the extent of the disease.

A common test is a blood test for alkaline phosphatase (ALP), which is an enzyme produced by osteoblasts. A high level of ALP suggests that your bones are breaking down and rebuilding faster than normal. Doctors might also do urine tests or take X-rays or bone scans.

What Treatments Are There for Paget’s disease?

1. Physical therapies

These include exercises, stretches, massage, hot or cold compresses, or electrical stimulation that can help reduce pain, improve mobility, strengthen muscles, and prevent stiffness. You may work with a physical therapist who can design a personalized program for you. You may also use assistive devices such as braces, splints, canes, or walkers to support your affected bones or joints and prevent falls or injuries.

2. Medication

Your doctor may prescribe medication to help you manage Paget’s disease. The most common medicine prescribed for this condition is a class called bisphosphonates, which are often used for osteoporosis patients. They slow down the osteoclasts and keep them from removing too much bone.[5]

Other types of medicine that may be used include calcitonin (which increases the rebuilding of bones), calcium and vitamin D (which promote bone health), and over-the-counter pain medications like acetaminophen.

3. Supplements

You may also benefit from taking supplements that support bone and joint health. For example, the Flexoplex Bone and Joint Support supplement is a natural supplement designed to improve your bone health and joint function. Flexdermal Joint Relief Cream is an excellent option that can help soothe bone pain and reduce inflammation.

The inflammation from Paget’s disease is the cause of many of the complications such as arthritis and nerve compression. It is best to ask your doctor before taking joint supplements, especially if you are also taking prescription medications to manage the disease.

4. Surgery

In some cases, you may need surgery to treat Paget’s disease or its complications, but this is rare. Surgery may be done to repair fractures, correct deformities, replace damaged joints with artificial ones (joint replacement), remove tumors, relieve nerve compression, or stabilize the spine.

Risk Factors of Paget’s Disease

Some factors that may increase your risk of developing Paget’s disease include age, certain genetics and family history, and ethnicity. The disease mostly affects white people of European descent over the age of 50.

FAQ’s

What are the three phases of Paget's disease?

The initial phase, which lasts years or even decades, has no symptoms. Next is the mixed phase, in which osteoblasts overproduce abnormal, weak, new bone, and symptoms like pain, deformity, and fractures start to appear. In the final phase, the affected bones become hardened and less prone to breaking, but they are still weak and deformed and can cause inflammation.

Why is bone pain worse at night?

Bone pain caused by Paget’s disease can be worse at night for several reasons. When you’re not moving at night, your joints become stiffer. The pressure of lying down can also increase the blood flow to the affected bones and stimulate the nerve endings that sense pain.

What are the common bone diseases?

Osteoporosis, in which bones become thin and brittle, is one of the most common bone diseases. Other bone disorders include osteomalacia (which causes bones to become soft and weak), osteomyelitis (an infection inside the bones), osteosarcoma (a type of bone cancer), and osteogenesis imperfecta (a genetic disorder in which bones become very fragile). And, of course, there’s Paget’s disease.

Can bone disease be cured?

Some bone diseases can be cured with proper treatment, while others can only be managed with medication, surgery, or lifestyle changes. Paget’s disease, right now, doesn’t have any potential cure. However, you can manage it with calcium and vitamin D, regular exercise, medication, pain relief supplements (such as Flexoplex and Flexdermal), and physical therapy. Surgery is an option for extreme cases.

Takeaway

Paget’s disease of bone is a chronic condition that affects the way your bones grow and develop. It causes some of your bones to break down faster than normal while others grow larger but weaker than before. This can lead to pain, deformity, fractures, and other complications.

If you have Paget’s disease or suspect that you have it, you should consult your doctor for a proper diagnosis and treatment. Remember that Paget’s disease of bone can be controlled with medication, lifestyle changes, or even surgery. Educate yourself well and know the right supplements to alleviate your symptoms. Having a good understanding of your condition should allow you to live a fulfilling and active life.

References

1] Chen X, Wang Z, Duan N, Zhu G, Schwarz EM, Xie C. Osteoblast–osteoclast interactions. Connective Tissue Research. 2017;59(2):99-107. doi:
2] Rabjohns EM, Hurst K, Ghosh A, Cuellar MC, Rampersad RR, Tarrant TK. Paget’s Disease of Bone: Osteoimmunology and Osteoclast Pathology. Current Allergy and Asthma Reports. 2021;21(4). doi:
3] Bouchette P, Boktor SW. Paget Disease. PubMed. Published 2020.
4] NIAMS. Paget’s Disease of Bone. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. Published April 6, 2017.
5] Ganesan K, Bansal P, Goyal A, Roane D. Bisphosphonate. PubMed. Published 2020.

Amr

Amr

Amr is a 29-year-old pharmacist who has established himself as an experienced medical content writer. He holds a bachelor's degree in pharmacy from the esteemed Faculty of Pharmacy at Alexandria University. Amr's passion for writing stemmed from his interest in healthcare, and he combined his knowledge of the medical field with his creative flair to become a proficient content writer. Throughout his career, Amr has worked on various projects, including medical articles, research papers, and informative blog posts for clients in the healthcare industry. He has a comprehensive understanding of medical terminology and can translate complex medical jargon into easily understandable language for the general public. Amr's dedication to his craft is reflected in the quality of his work, and his attention to detail ensures that each piece of content he writes is accurate, informative, and engaging. When he's not working, Amr enjoys reading about the latest advancements in healthcare and spending time with his loved ones.

Education

  • Bachelor of pharmacy from Alexandria university
  • 2012-2017

Work Experience

  • Pharmacist - Al Azaby Pharmacies 2012-2014
  • Pharmacist – Khalil Pharmacies 2014-present
Written by Amr

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