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Paget Disease of Bone


The Manual's Editorial Staff

Last full review/revision Oct 2019| Content last modified Oct 2019
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Bones are constantly breaking down and rebuilding, a process known as remodeling. In this process, old bone tissue is gradually replaced by new bone tissue. 

What is Paget disease of bone?

Paget disease of bone is a problem with the way your bone cells break down and rebuild (remodel). Parts of some of your bones grow thicker but weaker than normal.

  • Doctors don’t know what causes most cases of Paget disease of bone, but it tends to run in families

  • It can happen to any bone but is most common in the pelvis, thighbone, and skull

  • It usually happens to people older than 40, and men are more likely to get it than women

  • Most people don’t have symptoms but if you do, you may have bone pain, osteoarthritis, or painful pinched nerves

  • Your bones may break more easily than normal

  • Medicines called bisphosphonates may help

What causes Paget disease of bone?

Bone is living tissue that is constantly being broken down and rebuilt. In Paget disease of bone, something goes wrong with how bone cells break down and are rebuilt. This leads to bone that grows bigger than normal but is weak.

Most of the time, doctors don’t know what causes this to happen. Paget disease can run in families.

What are the symptoms of Paget disease of bone?

Paget disease usually causes no symptoms. If you do have symptoms, you may have:

  • Deep, aching bone pain that may be worse at night

  • Pinched nerves, causing pain

  • Curved or unusually shaped bones

  • Enlarged head, heavy brow, or hearing loss if your skull is affected

  • Painful and stiff joints (osteoarthritis)

  • Fractures that happen more easily than normal

How can doctors tell if I have Paget disease of bone?

To tell if you have Paget disease of bone, doctors do tests:

How do doctors treat Paget disease of bone?

Doctors will treat your Paget disease of bone if you have pain or they think it may cause other problems, such as hearing loss, osteoarthritis, or a misshapen body part. Usually they will:

  • Have you take pain medicine (such as acetaminophen) to lessen pain

  • Have you take calcium and vitamin D to strengthen your bones

  • Encourage you to do daily activities that help build strong bones, such as standing and walking

  • If one leg becomes curved and shortened, have you wear a shoe insert

  • Sometimes, do surgery to relieve pinched nerves or replace a damaged joint

  • Take medicines called bisphosphonates, which affect the abnormal bone growth

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