What is Paget’s disease?

Paget’s disease of bone is a chronic (long-lasting) disorder that causes bones to grow larger and become weaker than normal. Usually only one or a few bones have the disease. 

Many people with Paget’s disease do not have symptoms. However, the bone changes can cause:

  • Bone pain.
  • Misshapen bones.
  • Broken bones (fractures).
  • Problems in the joints near the bones with the disease.

With treatment, many people can:

  • Manage their symptoms.
  • Improve pain.
  • Control the effects of the disease.

Who gets Paget’s disease?

Certain factors may make you more likely to get Paget’s disease:

  • Age. Paget’s disease is less common in people under age 40. The chance of getting the disease goes up as you age.
  • Anglo-Saxon descent. Paget’s disease is more common in certain areas of the world, such as:
    • North America.
    • Australia.
    • New Zealand.
    • Europe, in people of Anglo-Saxon descent.
  • Family history. Paget’s disease is common in families.

What are the symptoms of Paget’s disease?

You may not know you have Paget’s disease because many people with the disease do not have symptoms. However, fractures or misshapen bones from the disease may cause pain. Symptoms develop slowly. The disease does not spread to normal bones.

Some people with advanced disease may have misshapen bones and other bone changes, which may include:

  • Increase in head size.
  • Bow shape of the leg.
  • Curving of the spine.

Other symptoms can develop, depending on the bone affected and can include:

  • Headaches and hearing loss when Paget’s disease affects the skull.
  • Tingling and numbness in arms and legs when enlarged vertebrae (bones that form the backbone) put pressure on the nerves in the spine.
  • Hip pain, which may occur when Paget’s disease affects the pelvis or thighbone.

What causes Paget’s disease?

Doctors do not know the cause of Paget’s disease. However, changes in genes increase the chance someone could develop Paget’s disease. Also, certain viruses may cause the disease in people who already have risk factors for Paget’s disease.