Medical Q&As

Paget's disease - explain?

Can you tell me about Pagetís disease?

Pagetís disease is a chronic disorder of the skeleton. It principally affects the skull, spine, pelvis, femur or thighbone and the lower legs. The disease is characterised by excessive breakdown of bone coupled with formation of new bone that can weaken the bone structure. This complex process can result in bone pain, arthritis, bone fractures and deformity. It is predominantly a disease of middle age and older and is rarely seen in those under the age of forty. Many people have the disease without being aware of it because they donít have any symptoms. Bone pain is the commonest symptom and can occur in any affected bone. Some people suffer from headache and hearing loss when the skull is affected. Such people may also exhibit increased head size. Other people may exhibit bowing of the limbs or even curvature of the spine. Some may also develop arthritis as a result of cartilage damage that is inflicted by Pagetís disease in the adjacent bone. Bones affected by Pagetís disease exhibit a characteristic appearance on x-ray and bone scans are very useful in determining the extent of the disease throughout the skeleton. Treatment can control the disease and lessen symptoms if given early in the course of the disease however; it will not reverse major changes once they have occurred. The disease has a good prognosis if identified early.