Symptoms of Paget's disease 

Paget's disease often has no symptoms and many people don't know they have the condition.

The most common symptom is bone pain, but may include joint pain and signs of a nerve being compressed or damaged.

Paget's disease usually affects the bones of the pelvis or spine. Other affected bones may include:

  • the skull
  • shoulders
  • bones in the arms and legs, particularly the thigh and shin bones

More than one bone is affected in two out of every three cases of Paget's disease.

When to seek medical advice

See your GP if you:

  • have persistent bone pain or notice deformities in any of your bones
  • have persistent joint pain  
  • experience any neurological symptoms, such as numbness, tingling or loss of movement 

These symptoms are discussed in more detail below.

Bone pain

Bone pain caused by Paget's disease has been described as a constant, dull pain deep within the affected part of the body. The pain is usually worse at night when you are lying down. The affected area may also feel warm.

As Paget's disease progresses, you may experience deformities in the affected bones, such as twisted or misshapen limbs, or scoliosis (curvature of the spine). Affected bones can sometimes break (fracture), particularly the longer bones in your arms and legs.

The skull

If Paget's disease develops inside the bones of your skull, it can cause the following symptoms:

  • hearing loss – which can be total or partial
  • vertigo – feeling very dizzy or the sensation you are moving when standing still
  • headaches
  • tinnitus – a constant buzzing or ringing noise in your ears

Joint pain

Abnormal bone growth can cause damage to nearby cartilage, which is the thick, spongy tissue that cushions your joints. Cartilage damage can lead to progressive joint damage, known as osteoarthritis.

Symptoms of osteoarthritis include:

  • joint tenderness or stiffness – usually worse when you wake up, but improves once you start to move
  • joints appearing larger than normal
  • difficulty moving your affected joints

Compressed or damaged nerves

Many of the major nerves in your body run through, or alongside, your bones. Abnormal bone growth can result in a bone compressing (squeezing) or damaging a nerve.

Depending on which nerve is affected, this can lead to a wide range of symptoms. Possible symptoms affecting the nerves (neurological symptoms) include:

  • pain travelling from the base of your spine down into your legs (sciatica)
  • pain travelling from your neck into your arms and chest (cervical radiculopathy)
  • numbness or tingling in the affected limbs (peripheral neuropathy) 
  • partial loss of movement in your limbs
  • loss of balance
  • bowel incontinence or urinary incontinence (loss of bowel or bladder control)

Page last reviewed: 05/12/2014

Next review due: 05/12/2016