Paget’s disease is a slow-progressing, relatively uncommon condition which causes the body to generate new bone faster than normal. Over the regular course of our lives, our bodies go through a process known as “bone remodeling”, where new bone tissue (ossification) gradually replaces older bone tissue (bone resorption).
This transfer of tissue helps maintain normal calcium levels in our blood. In adults, this bone replacement normally occurs at a rate of about 10% per year.
Because Paget’s disease causes your body to generate new bone faster than normal, the new bone tissue is softer and weaker than normal bone and often abnormally shaped, which can lead to bone pain, arthritis, pinched-nerves, deformities, fractures and even hearing loss.
The disease most often impacts the spine, legs, pelvis and skull. According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, Paget’s disease impacts approximately 2 to 3% of the population over the age of 55. Men are more often affected than women.
It is often difficult to know if you have Paget’s disease as many people with the condition do not exhibit any symptoms. For those that do experience symptoms, the most common complaint is bone pain. The disease is often discovered when given x-rays for another reason. An abnormal alkaline phosphatase (ALP) test can also be an indicator of the disease. High levels of ALP found through routine blood-work can indicate liver disease or bone disorders.
According to the Mayo Clinic, the exact cause of Paget’s disease of bone is unknown. It is believed that a combination of genetic and environmental factors contribute to the disease. If you are diagnosed with Paget’s disease, your doctor will recommend the best course of treatment which may include osteoporosis medications.