Paget's disease

Paget's disease disrupts the normal cycle of bone renewal and repair, causing bones to become weakened and deformed.

Bone pain is the most common symptom of Paget's disease, often affecting the pelvis or spine. The pain is usually worse when lying down.

You should visit your GP if you experience bone pain or notice any bone deformities.

However, in many cases of Paget's disease, there are no noticeable symptoms and it's only diagnosed during tests for an unrelated medical condition, or when a bone is fractured.

Read more about the symptoms of Paget's disease and diagnosing Paget's disease.

Why does Paget's disease happen?

Paget's disease is caused by a problem with the process of bone regeneration, which results in bone being replaced at a faster rate than usual. This leads to enlarged bones that are weak and brittle.

It's not clear why this happens, but both genetic and environmental factors are believed to be important. There is a family history of the condition in around 10-15% of cases.

Read more about the causes of Paget's disease.

Treating Paget's disease

The condition is not usually treated immediately if you're not experiencing symptoms, although your health will be regularly monitored.

Treatment can help relieve symptoms and prevent the condition getting worse, but there's no cure for Paget's disease.

Medication can help control bone regeneration, with a type of medicine called bisphosphonates being the first choice. These are taken as a tablet or given as an injection.

Over-the-counter painkillers such as paracetamol and ibuprofen can help relieve bone pain.

Surgery is only used if Paget's disease causes further problems, such as osteoarthritis or a bone fracture.

Read more about treating Paget's disease.


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

In very rare cases, Paget's disease can cause heart failure or bone cancer.

Read more about complications of Paget's disease.

Who is affected?

After osteoporosis, Paget's disease is the second most common type of bone disease in the UK, although the number of cases is declining.

It most often occurs in people of white British descent and is very rare among other ethnic groups.

The UK has the highest rates of Paget's disease in the world. It's also relatively common in countries with high levels of migration from Britain, such as Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.

Paget's disease is an age-related condition and rarely affects young people. It's estimated about 2-3% of white adults aged over 50 have the condition in the UK.

Other types of Paget's disease

Paget's disease is named after James Paget, an English surgeon, who first described the condition's symptoms in 1877. A number of other conditions were also named after James Paget, including:

To avoid confusion, healthcare professionals often use the term "Paget's disease of the bone" to distinguish this condition from the ones above. However, for ease of reading, this topic uses the term "Paget's disease" to refer to "Paget's disease of the bone".

© Crown Copyright 2009

This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse this site you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Find out more here.