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Osteoporosis Health Center

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Paget's Disease of Bone - Topic Overview

How is Paget's disease diagnosed? continued...

To diagnose Paget's disease, the doctor will ask about your past health, do a physical exam, and order tests such as:

  • Bone X-rays. Affected bones often look deformed and too thick on X-rays.
  • Bone scan. This is the best test for diagnosing Paget's disease. You may have a bone scan of your whole body to find out which bones are affected.
  • Blood and urine tests. The most important one for diagnosing Paget's disease is a blood test for alkaline phosphatase, an enzyme made by bone. If the level of this enzyme is high, your doctor will want to do other tests.

You might also need other tests, such as an MRI or a CT scan.

How is it treated?

Many people don't need treatment for Paget's disease. But even if you don't need treatment, you will still need to see your doctor on a regular basis from now on. This will let your doctor watch for other problems you might get from the disease, such as arthritis, fractures, or nerve problems.

Your doctor may prescribe medicine if you have symptoms or if you have no symptoms but you are at risk for other problems from Paget's disease. Medicine can help reduce the breakdown of bone tissue, control symptoms such as bone pain, and prevent other problems such as arthritis, fractures, or nerve damage.

  • Bisphosphonates are usually the first medicines prescribed for Paget's disease. They often make the disease inactive, sometimes for years or decades. If it becomes active again, you may need to take this medicine off and on to keep the disease under control.
  • Calcitonin may be prescribed if you have problems with bisphosphonates. It has similar benefits.

If you still have pain while taking your prescribed medicine, you can try:

You might also need other treatments, such as:

  • Physical therapy to build your muscles and improve your balance. This can help reduce falls and prevent broken bones.
  • Splints or braces to support your bones and joints and to help keep weak bones from breaking.
  • A cane or walker to help you avoid falling and breaking a bone.
  • A hearing aid if the disease has caused hearing loss.

Some people may need surgery to replace a damaged hip or knee joint.

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