How Does Paget’s Disease Affect the Spine?

Is Paget’s disease related to spinal stenosis?

It is quite possible that you have never heard of Paget’s disease, but, in fact, only osteoporosis is a more common type of bone disease. Although the number may be higher due to the fact that many people with Paget’s disease do not experience symptoms or may believe them to be arthritis, it is estimated that there are currently about a million people in the U.S. with the disease. 

If you are familiar with Paget’s disease it may be due to its connection to spinal stenosis, a condition that is gaining more recognition as increasing numbers of the population reach the 50-and-older mark. Spinal stenosis, which can create pain and numbness in the legs, arms or middle of the body, is the result of a narrowing of the spinal canal. This sometimes crippling condition is most often caused by the breakdown of cartilage around the bones of the spine that is brought on by arthritis. However, arthritis is not the only cause. The other causes that are most likely to result in spinal stenosis include injuries, tumors, herniated discs and Paget’s disease. 

What is Paget’s Disease? 

Also known as osteitis deformans, Paget’s disease was named after Sir James Paget, an English surgeon. It is the result of a malfunction of the bone remodeling process. Normally, bone is constantly undergoing a balanced breakdown of old bone and replacement with new bone. Individuals with Paget’s disease suffer from an imbalance of this process: excessive amounts of bone are broken down and excessive amounts of bone are being formed. This results in a bone that may be larger in size, have more blood vessels, be deformed and weaker than normal bone.

Paget’s disease most commonly affects the spine, pelvis, thigh, upper arm, collarbone and skull. Symptoms depend on which bones are affected and the degree of malfunction. Many people with Paget’s disease do not experience any symptoms at all or none for many years. If the bones of the spine are affected, the symptoms would be those of spinal stenosis, which may include:

  • Lower back pain
  • Numbness and/or tingling down legs and in feet
  • Weakness when standing
  • Searing or burning pain of sciatica
  • Some level of sexual dysfunction

Other bones that are affected may display different types of symptoms. For example, if Paget’s disease is in the skull, the result may be vision and hearing issues, headaches and pain or numbness in the face. 

What Causes It?

Currently, there is no known cause for Paget’s disease. Researchers believe that there are factors that make individuals more prone to developing the disease. Some of the most common suspected contributors are:

  • Age – after age 40 the likelihood increases
  • Genetics – strong tendency to run in families
  • Ancestry – Paget’s is rarely found in China, Japan, India or the Scandinavian countries and is much more likely to show up in those living in the U.S., Great Britain, Western Europe, Australia and New Zealand

Once there has been bone damage related to Paget’s disease, there is no way to undo the effects and there is currently no cure. Treatment mainly consists of relieving the symptoms, repairing broken or deformed bones and other types of procedures, like hip and knee replacements. 

At Long Island Spine Rehabilitation Medicine, our physicians are committed to more than just treating your symptoms. We strongly believe that each individual is best served through an integrative treatment plan. We focus on finding the underlying cause and providing non-surgical, evidence-based solutions tailored to your specific condition and needs. If you are experiencing pain or have questions about any of our services, we invite you to schedule a consultation by using our convenient online form by clicking here