Pain Associated with Paget's Disease
Not all people who have Paget’s disease experience pain. It is, however, the commonest presenting symptom of Paget’s disease. It is important to define the cause of pain so that the correct treatment can be given.
In many people, Paget’s disease affects a single bone, whereas in others, several bones may be affected. In general, pain caused by Paget’s disease is localised to the affected site. For example, if you have Paget’s disease in your skull, it might result in the occurrence of headaches.
Pain in Paget’s disease may be related to what is known as “increased metabolic activity” of the disease. The reason why this pain occurs isn’t entirely clear, but it is thought to be a consequence of increased bone cell activity. Such pain can respond well to treatment with a bisphosphonate, such as zoledronic acid. Many people, however, who have Paget’s disease, experience pain related to other causes, and if that is the case, it is unlikely to be helped by bisphosphonate therapy. For detailed information on treatment see our booklet, ‘Paget’s Disease – The Facts’.
Pain can also occur because of damage to the joints next to affected bones (osteoarthritis), a break in the bone (fracture), pressure on the nerves from enlargement of the bone or as the result of deformity of the bones, which can put stress on joints and soft tissues.
It is important to have pain, especially new or increasing pain assessed by your doctor.
What is bone pain?
Bone pain at a specific site is detected by specialised transmitters located on the bone’s surface, which then pass messages through the nervous system to the brain where signals are recognised as pain. Pain in Paget’s disease may be caused by increased metabolic activity. This can occur at rest or at night, but can also be provoked by weight bearing on an affected bone.