Paget's Disease of Bone - What Happens
In healthy people,
bone is constantly being replaced as bone tissue is
broken down and absorbed into the body, then rebuilt with new cells. In the
early stages of
Paget's disease, bone tissue breaks down faster than
it rebuilds. To make up for this breakdown process, the body speeds up the
rebuilding process. But this new bone is often weak and brittle, causing it to
break (fracture) more easily. Your body also tends to produce too much of this
new bone, and the bone may have more blood supply than normal.
Paget's disease usually affects the bones in the
spine , thigh (femur ), skull, shin (tibia), and upper
arm (humerus ). Paget's disease may affect just one bone
(monostotic), but it usually affects more than one (polyostotic).
Early in Paget's
disease, you may not know that you have it. People often mistake symptoms such
as bone pain for normal aging or
osteoarthritis. Later in the disease, you may have
signs such as
bowed legs , enlarged skull or facial bones, stooped-forward posture, or broken
Paget's disease is a lifelong illness and can be either
active or inactive at different times. Paget's disease
rarely spreads to additional bones after it gets started. Most people who have
Paget's disease lead normal lives.
Complications of Paget's disease are rare but may
include inflammation of joints (arthritis),
broken bones (fractures),
heart failure, and nerve problems. Nerve problems can
cause a variety of symptoms, such as headache,
hearing loss, and vision problems.