What Is Paget’s Disease and How Is It Treated?
Category: Spine | Author: Stefano Sinicropi | Date: June 29, 2016
Paget’s disease is a condition that causes a person’s bones to grow too large and to become weak. The condition can occur in any bone throughout your body, but it is most common in the spine and pelvis. Since the spine and the surrounding structures rely on stability, it’s no surprise that Paget’s Disease can cause numerous issues in your back. Today we examine the causes, symptoms and treatment options for Paget’s Disease.
Paget’s Disease – Prevalence, Causes and Symptoms
If you’re like most people, odds are you haven’t heard of Paget’s Disease before today, but roughly one million people in the United States are dealing with complications associated with the condition. Paget’s Disease usually affects older populations, and men are more likely to suffer from this condition than women.
Similar to idiopathic scoliosis, the causes of Paget’s Disease are unknown. Doctors believe the condition may run in families (genetically caused), so being aware of the symptoms is beneficial for the family members. Symptoms can be silent or very subtle, but some signs and symptoms of the condition include:
- Spine pain
- Enlarged bones
- Bones that break without excessive trauma
- Joint pain
Symptoms tend to get worse without treatment, but the disease doesn’t spread to other bones like some conditions.
Paget’s Disease – Diagnosis and Treatment
As you might have guessed based on the signs and symptoms, Paget’s Disease is usually only identifiable by taking a look at a person’s bone structure and density. This is typically performed with the assistance of an X-ray or bone scan. A spine specialist may also order an alkaline phosphatase blood test to look for the presence of an enzyme that typically accompanies the disease.
As we noted above, the earlier the diagnosis, the better the treatment outcomes. If ignored, Paget’s Disease can contribute to arthritis, heart disease, nerve problems and even bone cancer. Treatment of Paget’s Disease begins with non-invasive methods and progresses to surgery should conservative treatments fail. At the outset, most patients with Paget’s Disease will be given medication to treat the condition. The two main types of medicine used to treat Paget’s Disease are biophosphonates and calcitonin. Which type of treatment depends on the symptoms and the drawn lab values. These treatments can help relieve pain and prevent the condition from worsening. A healthy diet and plenty of exercise are two other conservative methods that help keep symptoms at bay.
If non-operative (conservative) methods fail, surgery may be necessary, especially if the stability of the spine is jeopardized. Surgery is generally performed to set broken bones or to stabilize bones that have become abnormal due to the condition. The specific surgery will be dependent on the symptoms and severity of the condition. For more information about the condition, or to see a spine specialist about any concerns you might have, contact us today.