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Reviewed May 2009
Paget's disease causes bones to grow too large and weak. You can have Paget's disease in any bones in your body, but most people have it in their spine, pelvis, skull, or leg bones. The disease may affect only one bone or several bones, but it does not affect the entire skeleton. Bones with Paget's disease may break more easily, and the disease can lead to other health problems.
About one million people in the United States have Paget's disease. The disease is more common in older people and those of Northern European descent. Men are more likely than women to have the disease.
Doctors are not sure what causes Paget's disease. They think that a virus may cause it in some cases. It also tends to run in families. Your doctor might suggest that your brothers, sisters, and children have blood tests every 2 or 3 years starting at the age of 40 to check for the disease.
Many people do not know they have Paget's disease because they have only mild symptoms. For others, signs and symptoms can include:
If you have Paget's disease in your leg bones, you may also have bowed legs. Your spine might curve if the disease is in the bones of the spine.
People with Paget's disease in the bones of the skull sometimes have:
Symptoms get worse slowly, and the disease does not spread to other bones.
Most often, Paget's disease is diagnosed with x rays. Your doctor may also order:
Early diagnosis and treatment can prevent some symptoms from getting worse.
Paget's disease may lead to other medical problems, such as:
Paget's disease can affect many parts of the body. You may need to see one or more types of doctors, such as:
Paget's disease is treated with medicine and sometimes surgery. A good diet and exercise are also important.
Two main types of medicines are approved to treat Paget's disease.
Surgery is sometimes needed to treat broken bones, malformed bones, or severe arthritis.
People with Paget's disease do not need a special diet. But, to maintain strong bones, you should get 1,200 mg of calcium and at least 400 IU of vitamin D every day. After age 70, you should take 600 IU of vitamin D each day. If you have had kidney stones, talk with your doctor about how much calcium and vitamin D to take.
Exercise helps build strong bones, prevents weight gain, and keeps joints mobile. Before starting a new exercise plan, talk with your doctor.
This publication contains information about medications used to treat the health condition discussed here. When this publication was developed, we included the most up-to-date (accurate) information available. Occasionally, new information on medication is released.
For updates and for any questions about any medications you are taking, please contact
U.S. Food and Drug Administration
Toll Free: 888–INFO–FDA (888–463–6332)
For additional information on specific medications, visit Drugs@FDA at www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/cder/drugsatfda. Drugs@FDA is a searchable catalog of FDA-approved drug products.
The information in this publication was summarized in easy-to-read format from a more detailed publication. To view, download, or order the full-text version, visit http://www.niams.nih.gov/Health_Info/Bone/default.asp.
The NIH National Resource Center acknowledges the assistance of The Paget Foundation (www.paget.org) in the preparation of this publication.