Healthdirect Free Australian health advice you can count on.

Medical problem? Call 1800 022 222. If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately

healthdirect Australia is a free service where you can talk to a nurse or doctor who can help you know what to do.

beginning of content

Paget's disease of bone

9-minute read

Key facts

  • Paget's disease is a chronic (long term) bone disorder where your bones become weakened and deformed.
  • The exact cause of Paget's disease is not known, but risk factors include older age, family history, certain ethnic backgrounds and some viruses.
  • Paget's disease can cause a dull pain in your bones at night or when you're resting.
  • Paget's disease is treated with medicines called bisphosphonates.
  • Paget's disease can cause some bone, joint and neurological (nerve) complications.

What is Paget's disease?

Paget's disease is a chronic bone disorder where your bones become weakened and deformed. It can develop in any bone in your body, but commonly affects the bones of your:

  • skull
  • pelvis
  • spine
  • upper arm
  • thighs and legs

Your bones are a living tissue. They are constantly being broken down and replaced. Paget's disease occurs when something goes wrong with this process, and your bones break down more quickly than normal. The new bone that develops is weaker than normal healthy bone tissue.

Paget's disease mainly affects people over 55 years old. It most commonly affects Caucasian people of British origin. In Australia, it is the most common metabolic bone disorder after osteoporosis.

What causes Paget's disease?

The exact causes of Paget's disease are not completely understood.

There are some known risk factors that increase your chance of having Paget's disease:

  • Genetics: You are more likely to develop Paget's disease if a close family member has had it.
  • Ethnicity: It is more common in people from England, Scotland, Central Europe, Greece and in countries settled by European migrants such as Australia and New Zealand.
  • Past illness: If you previously were infected with a viral infection of measles, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) or paramyxovirus you are at a higher risk.
  • Environmental exposures: Exposure to wood fire heating during childhood can increase your risk.
  • Older age: As you get older, you have a greater chance of developing Paget's disease.

What are the symptoms of Paget's disease?

Many people with Paget's disease do not have any symptoms. The most common symptom people do develop is a dull pain at night or when resting.
Other symptoms may include:

  • affected bones feeling warm to touch
  • deformed or misshapen bones
  • pain and aching in your bones
  • problems with hearing, headache, vertigo (feeling of spinning or swaying) or tinnitus (ringing in the ears)

Paget's disease can cause other symptoms related to complications which develop because of the abnormal bones.

How is Paget's disease diagnosed?

Paget's disease is often diagnosed when your doctor is doing tests for another reason. For example, they may diagnose it after a blood test or on an x-ray done for a different health condition.

Blood test

This is the main test used to confirm Paget's disease if it is suspected. Levels of an enzyme called alkaline phosphatase (ALP) are checked. High levels of ALP without any other cause could mean you have Paget's disease.


An x-ray can show easily recognisable changes in your bones caused by Paget's disease.

ASK YOUR DOCTOR — Preparing for an appointment? Use the Question Builder for general tips on what to ask your GP or specialist.

When should I see my doctor?

You should see your doctor if you experience bone pain or notice any bone deformities.

FIND A HEALTH SERVICE — The Service Finder can help you find doctors, pharmacies, hospitals and other health services.

How is Paget's disease treated?

There is no cure for Paget's disease. The aim of treatment is to relieve symptoms and to prevent complications.

If you do not have any symptoms, you may not need treatment. Your doctor will continue to check your health regularly.

If you have symptoms, your doctor may treat your Paget's disease with:

  • Bisphosphonates: This is the main treatment of Paget's disease. This medicine slows down the breakdown of your bones. It helps make them stronger and reduces the chance of complications such as bone fractures.
  • Pain relief: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAIDs) medicines may help manage pain caused by Paget's disease.
  • Surgery: Very rarely, surgery is needed to treat any fractures or cosmetic and dental deformities.
  • Vitamin D supplements, if your levels are low. Exposure to sunlight can also increase your vitamin D levels, but this has other risks. Ask your doctor for advice on the best level of sun exposure in your situation.
  • Diet: It is important to maintain a healthy diet. Make sure you get enough calcium in your diet to help keep your bones healthy. Ask your doctor if you need a calcium supplement — they may also recommend you see a dietitian for specific nutrition advice.
  • Physiotherapy and occupational therapy: Keeping active is very important for your bone health, mobility and strength. However, if your bones are affected by Paget's disease, they may be weaker and you may not be able to do all types of exercises. It is important you talk to a physiotherapist, exercises physiologist or occupational therapist to learn which exercises are best for you.

Complications of Paget's disease

If untreated, Paget's disease can cause a range of complications in different body systems:

Resources and Support

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: October 2023

Back To Top

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Top results

Paget's disease of bone -

Paget's disease of bone is characterised by repeated episodes of increased bone resorption followed by excessive attempts at repair.

Read more on myDr website

Paget's disease of bone - Better Health Channel

Paget's disease of bone is a chronic condition that causes abnormal enlargement and weakening of bone.

Read more on Better Health Channel website

Alkaline Phosphatase (ALP) | Pathology Tests Explained

Alkaline phosphatase (ALP) is an enzyme found in high levels in bone and liver with smaller amounts found in the intestines. Small amounts of ALP are also fo

Read more on Pathology Tests Explained website

Paget's Disease — Symptoms, Causes, & Treatments | MSK Australia

Do you have Paget’s disease? Find out more about your musculoskeletal condition, how to manage, and where to find support. Call MSK helpline: 1800 263 265

Read more on Musculoskeletal Australia website

Primary Bone Cancer - Cancer Council Victoria

Learn more about primary bone cancer (also known as bone sarcoma) including risk factors, symptoms & how it is diagnosed.

Read more on Cancer Council Victoria website

Healthdirect 24hr 7 days a week hotline

24 hour health advice you can count on

1800 022 222

Government Accredited with over 140 information partners

We are a government-funded service, providing quality, approved health information and advice

Australian Government, health department logo ACT Government logo New South Wales government, health department logo Northen Territory Government logo Queensland Government logo Government of South Australia, health department logo Tasmanian government logo Victorian government logo Government of Western Australia, health department logo

Healthdirect Australia acknowledges the Traditional Owners of Country throughout Australia and their continuing connection to land, sea and community. We pay our respects to the Traditional Owners and to Elders both past and present.