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Hypothyroidism: Can thyroid lead to joint pain?

Did you know that thyroid and joint pain are interrelated? If not, read on to know the connection between the two health problems.
thyroid and joint pain
Read on to know the link between thyroid and joint pain. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock
Internal Medicine
Updated: 17 Oct 2023, 18:26 pm IST
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Have you ever wondered if your thyroid could be the hidden culprit behind your joint pain? The thyroid, a small butterfly-shaped gland in your neck, plays a vital role in regulating numerous body functions. While it is commonly associated with symptoms including fatigue, weight changes and mood disorders, emerging research suggests that thyroid dysfunction can also contribute to joint pain and discomfort. Let us understand the link between thyroid and joint pain.

Thyroid and joint pain: Is there a connection?

Understanding the link between the thyroid and joint pain is crucial in diagnosing and managing various thyroid-related conditions. The thyroid gland plays a vital role in regulating metabolism and producing hormones that affect nearly every organ in the body. When thyroid dysfunction occurs, it can lead to hormonal imbalances, resulting in a wide range of symptoms, including joint pain.

Types of thyroid disorders that can contribute to joint pain:

1. Hypothyroidism

Hypothyroidism is where the thyroid gland produces insufficient amounts of thyroid hormones. Joint pain is frequently observed in individuals with hypothyroidism. It may often affect the knees, hips, shoulders and hands. The exact mechanism behind this association is not fully understood, but it is believed that the hormonal imbalances caused by hypothyroidism can lead to inflammation in the joints, resulting in pain and stiffness.

thyroid and joint pain
Hypothyroidism can lead to joint and knee pain. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

2. Hyperthyroidism

Hyperthyroidism happens when a person’s thyroid gland generates an excessive amount of thyroid hormones. While hyperthyroidism typically manifests with symptoms such as weight loss, rapid heartbeat, and tremors, joint pain can also be present. In this case, joint pain is thought to be related to the accelerated breakdown of bone tissue and increased bone resorption that can occur with hyperthyroidism.

Also read: Irregular or heavy periods may be a sign of a thyroid issue

3. Autoimmune thyroid diseases

Apart from these two, autoimmune thyroid diseases, such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and Graves’ disease, can cause joint pain. The immune system erroneously attacks the thyroid gland, causing inflammation. The inflammation can spread to other parts of the body, including the joints, causing pain, swelling, and reduced mobility. It is important to recognize that joint pain alone is not sufficient to diagnose a thyroid disorder, as numerous other factors can contribute to joint pain.

Treatment for thyroid-related joint pain

Treating joint pain that is associated with thyroid disorders primarily involves managing the underlying thyroid condition. Hypothyroidism is often treated with synthetic thyroid hormone replacement therapy. In hyperthyroidism, treatment may involve medications to suppress thyroid hormone production or, in some cases, surgical intervention or radioactive iodine therapy to reduce thyroid gland activity.

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Diagnosing thyroid-related joint pain

If you experience persistent joint pain and suspect a thyroid-related issue, it is important to seek consultation with a doctor by conducting a thorough medical examination, and appropriate diagnostic tests, which may include blood tests to measure thyroid hormone levels.

joint pain
Strengthening your knee joints is essential to overcome the issue. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Since joint pain can have various causes, thyroid dysfunction is just one potential factor. Thyroid function tests help differentiate between joint pain caused by thyroid disorders and other possible underlying conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis. This differentiation is crucial for appropriate diagnosis and treatment planning.

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Lifestyle changes to manage thyroid-related joint pain

Making certain lifestyle modifications can help manage joint pain and support overall well-being. This also includes regular exercise, such as low-impact activities like swimming or walking, maintaining a healthy weight, getting adequate rest and sleep, and adopting a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and omega-3 fatty acids, which are anti-inflammatory foods.

Takeaway

Joint pain can indeed be linked to thyroid disorders, especially in the context of autoimmune conditions and hormonal imbalances. To ensure appropriate diagnosis and treatment, it is critical to recognize the relationship between these two factors. Seeking medical attention is critical for effectively managing joint pain symptoms. Early detection and intervention can lead to improved management of joint pain and thyroid disorders, which will aid in the restoration of overall well-being in the future.

 

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About the Author

Dr Manoj Muthu, Orthopaedic Surgeon, Apollo Spectra Hospital, Chennai, India. ...Read More

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