Can hypothyroidism cause joint pain? I have hypothyroidism and have been experiencing severe arthritis-like pain in my shoulders and hips.

Answers from Todd B. Nippoldt, M.D.

For some people, hypothyroidism can contribute to joint and muscle problems.

Specifically, hypothyroidism may lead to:

  • Muscle aches, tenderness and stiffness, especially in the shoulders and hips
  • Joint pain and stiffness
  • Swelling of the small joints in the hands and feet
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome

Reducing pain

Although common over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen can help, adequate thyroid hormone replacement is the primary treatment and often helps dramatically.

When to see your doctor

Keep in mind that people with the most common form of hypothyroidism have an increased risk of developing other autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis. If pain, stiffness and swelling don't improve after adequate thyroid treatment, consult your doctor. He or she may consider other possible causes of your joint pain.

Jan. 23, 2016