Please note: This information was current at the time of publication but now may be out of date. This handout provides a general overview and may not apply to everyone. 

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Am Fam Physician. 2020;102(4):online

See related article on Paget disease of bone.

What is Paget disease of bone?

Paget disease of bone is a chronic disease that affects your bones. It makes them weak and easy to break. They also grow large and may change shape. You can have Paget disease in any bone, but most often it affects the spine, skull, pelvis, and legs. It can affect only one bone or many of your bones.

Who gets the disease?

It is most common in older people and affects more men than women.

What causes it?

No one knows what causes it. Sometimes it runs in families. Other times, some viruses or chemicals may cause it.

How do I know if I have it?

Many people don't know they have the disease because they have no symptoms or very mild symptoms. For others, symptoms may include:

  • Pain

  • Headaches

  • Enlarged bones

  • Bowing of an arm or leg

  • Broken bones

  • Hearing loss

  • Joint pain

Your doctor will examine you to check for symptoms. If your doctor thinks you have Paget disease, he or she will order blood tests and imaging tests. Many of these symptoms, such as joint pain or headaches, are common and in most cases have other causes.

Will I need treatment?

Not everyone needs treatment. But, in some people the disease can cause serious problems depending on which bones are affected. Some people who get Paget disease can develop related conditions such as:

  • Arthritis

  • Bone tumors

  • Hearing loss

  • Heart disease

  • Kidney stones

  • Nervous system problems, such as feeling numb or weak in your legs or arms

How is it treated?

Your doctor may give you medicine for the bone pain and to keep the disease from getting worse. Your doctor also may treat you for related problems. In rare cases, you may need surgery to fix related conditions like a bad knee or a deformed or broken bone.

How can I prevent the disease?

Doctors don't know how to prevent the disease.

Where can I get more information?

National Institutes of Health

National Library of Medicine

National Osteoporosis Foundation

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