Charity warns elderly could be living with bone condition without knowing

Sheila Nursey, 90, with research student Juan Nunez, who is researching Paget's Disease.

Sheila Nursey, 90, with research student Juan Nunez, who is researching Paget's Disease. - Credit: Archant

It was when 90-year-old Sheila Nursey began falling frequently that she knew something was wrong.

The pensioner, from Norwich, did not understand why she fell several times while waiting for a hip replacement, and her nursing team were also scratching their heads.

But after a number of falls, Ms Nursey was given a scan which revealed she was suffering from Paget's disease – a condition which causes weakened bones that leads to pain, deformity, fractures, and potentially even bone cancer.

It is a condition which affects around 2-3pc of over 50s in the UK, but experts estimate many people do not know they are living with the condition.

Yet the diagnosis meant much to Ms Nursey, who said she felt much better after being given treatment to combat the illness.

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'After I was assessed and had treatment prescribed I was so much better – like a 25-year-old instead of a 90-year-old,' she said.

'I had never heard of Paget's disease and no one seemed to know much about it.'

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She received help from the Paget's Association, a national charity that supports patients with the condition, and was referred to Professor Bill Fraser, a consultant at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (N&N).

'I will be eternally grateful to the Paget's Association and to the professor for his care and expertise,' Ms Nursey added.

The Paget's Association is now warning that there are potentially many older people in East Anglia who have Paget's Disease and remain undiagnosed, and some may have been told there is nothing that can be done other than take painkillers.

The charity said those people need to be referred to specialists with skill in the diagnosis and treatment of the condition.

It comes as the N&N, together with the University of East Anglia, is named by the charity as a centre of excellence for treatment and research into Paget's Disease.

Professor Roger Francis, chairman of the charity, said: 'Patients who have Paget's Disease and who are referred to the N&N should be reassured that they will receive the best possible care.'

Three students at the university have also each been given bursaries worth £6,000 to research the condition. Paget's disease was first described by Sir James Paget, a surgeon and pathologist, who was born in Great Yarmouth in 1814.

His name is also commemorated in the James Paget University Hospital in Gorleston.

Do you have an unusual condition? Email health correspondent Nicholas Carding at

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