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Microscope view of Pagets disease

Microscope view of Pagets disease
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Paget's disease of bone

2-minute read

Paget's disease of bone is a condition that weakens and deforms bones. It usually affects the skull, pelvis, spine or leg. Paget's disease mainly affects people aged over 55. In Australia, it is the most common metabolic bone disorder after osteoporosis. Although its cause is unknown, people are more likely to develop Paget’s disease if someone else in their family has it.

What is Paget’s disease?

Bone is a living tissue, constantly being broken down and renewed. This process is called bone remodelling.

Paget’s disease occurs when something goes wrong with this process – the bone breaks down more quickly than normal, and the new bone that is formed is larger and weaker than normal bone.

Paget’s disease usually affects the skull, pelvis, lower spine and long bones of the leg.

It can affect bones in one or more places in your body.

Paget's disease symptoms

Many people with Paget’s disease have no symptoms.

Some people have pain in the bones. Often, the pain is worse after lying down or resting.

People with Paget’s disease may also have:

  • enlarged or deformed bones
  • bowed legs
  • deafness or ringing in the ears caused by pressure on nearby nerves from enlarged or deformed bones
  • troubles with sight, balance or muscle strength caused by the same pressure
  • broken bones.

Paget's disease diagnosis

Paget’s disease is often diagnosed by chance during tests for an unrelated medical condition, or when a bone is fractured.

If you show certain signs of the disease (such as bone pain or deformity), your doctor may refer you to a specialist. You may be asked to have blood or urine tests, an X-ray or a bone scan. In some cases, imaging tests such as a CT or MRI scan may be needed to confirm the diagnosis

Paget’s disease complications

Complications of Paget’s disease are uncommon, but can be serious. They include bone factures and deformities, hearing loss and osteoarthritis.

Very rarely, Paget’s disease can cause heart failure or bone cancer.

Paget’s disease treatment

There is no cure for Paget’s disease but treatment can ease symptoms and reduce the chances of having complications.

Usually, people with no symptoms don't need treatment. If treatment is needed, it can include:

  • over-the-counter pain relievers such as paracetamol and ibuprofen
  • bisphosphonates, which are prescription-only medicines that can help control bone renewal
  • surgery (very rarely) to treat osteoarthritis or a fracture.

Good nutrition is important, particularly calcium and vitamin D to help keep your bones healthy. Supportive therapies such as physiotherapy or occupational therapy may also help.

People with Paget’s disease need ongoing monitoring by their doctors.

If you experience bone pain or notice any bone deformities, see your doctor as soon as possible.

Sources:

NHS Choices (Paget’s disease), myVMC (Paget’s disease (osteitis deformans)), RACGP (Paget disease of bone: An update), ANZBMS (Paget’s disease of bone booklet (PDF))

Last reviewed: July 2017

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