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Understanding Paget's Disease

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Do you find yourself having achy bones, bowed legs, or an enlarged skull (no ladies, unfortunately that doesn’t mean you are just abnormally smart)? Believe it or not, you may be showing signs of Paget’s disease, and for most cases, you can’t even detect it.

Essentially, Paget’s can be described as a chronic disease that causes abnormal bone growth. Your bone tissue is constantly breaking down and being absorbed into the body, being replaced by new bone. As this vicious cycle continues, your body speeds up the breakdown process, often replacing it with weaker bone tissue, causing your bones to be more brittle and susceptible to breaks and fractures.

Unless you are in a obvious situation like breaking a bone more often than you break bread, or you have noticeably deformed bones that effects your daily routine, you may not show any symptoms of Paget’s disease, or even be privvy to the idea of having this condition. Generally speaking, your pelvis, spine, thigh, shin, skull and upper arm bones are the common victims of Paget's disease. If these bones ache more often than you think they should, or you have bowed legs, a curved backbone or enlarged hips or skull, you may want to consider seeing a doctor. These could be the beginning signs of this condition.

There are two forms of Paget’s: either active or inactive. If your condition is inactive, the rate of your bone tissue breaking down and rebuilding is essentially happening at a normal speed. This is normally the case when you are on medication to slow the process down. If your condition is active, you can categorize yourself in one of three stages: Hot, mixed or cold. Believe me, this is not a question of how you like your chocolate milk. The hot stage is early in the process where bone tissue is breaking down rapidly. The mixed stage is when the bone tissue is breaking down and rebuilding at as fast rate. And last, but certainly not least, the cold stage is when the bone tissue is done breaking down and is only rebuilding.

It is also important to note that this condition usually becomes a risk factor for those over 50. And, although the cause of this disease is not completely clear, it is safe to say that genetics plays an intricate role in your fate with Paget’s. In addition to genetics, research shows that certain viruses you contract may lead to Paget’s as well.

Oddly, most people are diagnosed with the disease when seeing a doctor for a different problem. If you suffer from what you believe is chronic hip pain from exercising, if may be detected in an x-ray or a blood test. That can be a real blow in the doctors office, especially if you were expecting the your physician to tell you to just take it easy for a week or two on the exercise regime. So, what now? Where do you go from here now that you've been diagnosed with a disease you've never heard of?

In my next article, we will discuss the recommended treatment for Paget’s disease, general preventative measures, surgery, and possible complications of this condition.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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