Paget's Disease of Bone: Causes, Symptoms & Treatments

Paget's Disease of Bone: Causes, Symptoms & Treatments
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  • 0:06 Odd Pathological Interactions
  • 0:40 What Is Paget's…
  • 3:00 Signs, Symptoms, and…
  • 4:53 Treatment
  • 5:31 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Artem Cheprasov
This lesson will discuss a condition known as Paget's disease of bone. We'll talk about its risk factors, why it occurs, how a doctor may diagnose it, as well as how it may be treated.

Odd Pathological Interactions

Sometimes, the weirdest associations and things occur in nature. Some ants actually farm by using other insects, such as aphids. Birds will willingly go into a crocodile's mouth to get some food as the crocodile willingly lets them without causing them harm. And a louse can enter a fish and take on the role of the fish's tongue. It's all weird but true.

These natural oddities extend to humans and our interactions with things like pathogens. This lesson will point out one such odd interaction and how it may influence a condition that affects our bones.

What Is Paget's Disease of Bone?

There's a condition called Paget's disease of bone. This is a disease characterized by large and improperly shaped bones that lead to pain, fractures, and arthritis.

This condition is more likely to affect older men of Northern European descent, although this doesn't preclude women or both sexes of other heritage from being affected.

We suspect that some viruses may actually cause this condition to occur, but cannot explain why. That's right! Different types of viruses have been implicated in this condition even though they don't directly affect the bones of the people they infect.

Why Does Paget's Disease of Bone Occur?

Besides viral issues, you can clearly tell that genetic issues have to play a role in this disease, since I mentioned that men of Northern European ancestry are more likely to develop it.

Whether it's genetic, viral, or otherwise, this disease affects the way your bones are remodeled. There are two cells involved in the remodeling of bone, called osteoclasts and osteoblasts. The osteoclasts and osteoblasts can be likened to home remodelers. The osteoclasts are the guys that come in first and tear everything down that needs to be torn down, while the osteoblasts come in and build everything anew to stabilize the house and make it look pretty.

A similar process occurs in your bones, where osteoclasts break down the bone and osteoblasts build it back up again.

In Paget's disease of bone, this building and rebuilding is very disorganized and out of sync compared to healthy people. You can liken the two home remodelers coming in and, instead of first tearing things down then cleaning things up before remodeling everything to make it look better, the remodelers instead tear everything down in excessive fashion and try to build everything back up far too quickly. This leads to a haphazard collection of semi-finished rooms with tears and holes in the walls intermixed with beautiful floors and semi-finished ceilings.

This disorganized formation of bone in people with this disease may result in the formation of bones that are larger than before, but not as dense, leading to a higher risk of fracture. You can liken it to our remodelers building a larger house but not using enough two by fours in between the drywall to hold the larger house up. It's bound to crack under its own weight!

Clinical Signs, Symptoms, and Diagnostics

Curiously, most of the bones that are affected in this condition include the skull, spine, pelvis, and legs, and we're not sure why. This is critical to know because another condition, known as osteoporosis, also leads to weakened bones that are more prone to fracture, but osteoporosis can affect all the bones in the body.

People affected with this condition feel quite a bit of pain, especially if it affects their skull or spinal cord. Arthritis, or inflammation of the joints, may develop in addition to the bowing of the legs, and increased risk for fracture.

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