Paget’s disease treatment
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What is Paget’s disease?
Paget’s disease is a fairly uncommon condition. It is caused by new bone growth outpacing the body’s natural breakdown of bone. It results in abnormal, weakened bones that are more likely to break. Bones can also become misshapen or soft. The condition can affect the legs, pelvis, spine, or skull. It does not usually spread; typically only one area of the body is affected by Paget’s disease. The condition also typically ends on its own; however, the damage is irreversible.
The cause of Paget’s disease is unknown, although the disease most often affects men of European descent as well as older people. Research indicates that the disease may be genetic and be activated by factors such as a viral infection.
Symptoms and causes
Many people with Paget’s disease are unaware that they have the condition because their symptoms are so mild. The most common symptom of the condition is bone pain. Other symptoms of the disease include enlarged bones, damaged cartilage, pinched nerves leading to pain, tingling or numbness, headaches and hearing loss. The disease usually progresses slowly.
Paget’s disease may lead to osteoarthritis as well as an increased chance of bone fractures. Some patients may have bowed legs or a curved spine. Nerve damage may occur if Paget’s disease affects the spine or skull, where bone overgrowth may compress nerves. Severe cases of the condition can lead to heart damage or bone cancer. Most symptoms can be managed with treatment.
Physicians diagnose Paget’s disease through X-rays, bone scans and blood tests. There is no cure for Paget’s disease, but drugs may slow the disease’s progression. Typically, bisphosphonates or calcitonin are used for the treatment of this condition. Acetaminophen and ibuprofen can also help patients manage pain.
Calcium and vitamin D supplements and exercise are also recommended for patients with Paget’s disease. Calcium is found in dairy products and green vegetables as well as supplements. Vitamin D is found in eggs, fish and fish oil; the body also produces vitamin D in response to sunlight. Joint replacement surgery is an option for those patients most severely affected by osteoarthritis as a result of Paget’s disease.