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Pagets Disease of Bone

Overview :

Named for Sir James Paget (1814–1899), this disease affects 1-3% of people over 50 years of age, but affects over 10% of people over 80 years of age. Paget's disease can affect one or more bones in the body. Most often, the pelvis, bones in the skull, the long bones (the large bones that make up the arms and legs), and the collarbones are affected by Paget's disease. In addition, the joints between bones (the knees or elbows, for example) can develop arthritis because of this condition.

Paget's disease is characterized by changes in the normal mechanism of bone formation. Bone is a living material made by the body through the continual processes of formation and breakdown (resorption). The combination of these two actions is called remodeling and is used by the body to build bone tissue that is strong and healthy. Strong bones are formed when bone tissue is made up of plate-shaped crystals of minerals called hydroxyapatite. Normal wear and tear on the skeletal system is repaired throughout life by the ongoing process of remodeling. In fact, the entire human skeleton is remodeled every five years.

Healthy bone tissue has an ordered structure that gives the bone its strength. Bones affected by Paget's disease, however, have a structure that is disorganized. This disorganized structure weakens the diseased bone and makes people suffering from this disease more likely to have fractures. These fractures are slow to heal.

Paget's disease of bone is most commonly found in Europe, England, Australia, New Zealand, and North America. In these areas, up to 3% of all people over 55 years of age are affected with the disease. It is interesting to note that Paget's disease is rare in Asia, possibly showing that this disease may affect some ethnic groups and geographic areas more than others.

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