Paget’s disease of the bone is a condition which causes the cycle of bone growth to be disrupted. After osteoporosis, it is the second most common bone condition. This condition is most common in people aged over 60.
Causes of Paget’s disease
Paget’s disease causes problems with the regeneration process of the bones; usually, the regeneration process involves cells called osteoclasts (these cells remove absorb the collagen from old bone cells) and osteoblasts (these cells generate collagen to form new bone cells). In people with Paget’s disease, the osteoclasts absorb collage much more rapidly than usual; to combat this, the osteoblasts start to produce collagen at quicker rate and the collagen they produce starts to become weaker than usual. Gradually, over time, the bones may become bigger but also weaker and less stable. Possible risk factors connected with Paget’s disease include:
- Age: older people are much more likely to suffer from Paget’s disease than younger people)
- Environmental factors
Symptoms of Paget’s disease
Paget’s disease commonly affects the bones that make up the pelvis but it may also affect the spine, skull, thigh bones and the bones in the arm. Common symptoms of Paget’s disease include:
- Pain in the bones
- Pain in the joints
- Damage to the joints (which may contribute to conditions including osteoarthritis)
- Damage to the nerves (this is caused by the bones compressing the nerves), which may cause pain that radiates from the bottom of the spine down the legs, numbness and a tingling sensation, headaches and blurred vision.
Treatment for Paget’s disease
Commonly, people who do not suffer any symptoms but have been diagnosed with Paget’s disease (this is done by means of a blood test) are not offered treatment initially but will be monitored closely by their GP. If symptoms present, patients are usually given medication, including bisphosphonates, to control the actions of the osteoclast cells; medication suppresses the cells, which controls the rate of absorption. If this condition contributes to other conditions, such as osteoarthritis, further treatment may be needed.