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

Answer From Ann Kearns, M.D., Ph.D.

For some people, hypothyroidism can add 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

Common over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) or acetaminophen (Tylenol, others) can help lessen pain. However, adequate thyroid hormone replacement is the main treatment and often helps reduce pain.

When to see your doctor

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


Ann Kearns, M.D., Ph.D.

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March 11, 2021 See more Expert Answers

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