Can hypothyroidism cause joint pain? I have hypothyroidism and have been experiencing severe arthritis-like pain in my shoulders and hips.
Answer 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
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. 16, 2019
- Longo DL, et al., eds. Disorders of the thyroid gland. In: Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine. 19th ed. New York, N.Y.: McGraw-Hill Education; 2015. http://accessmedicine.com. Accessed Dec. 16, 2015.
- Wolff K, et al. Endocrine, metabolic, nutritional, and genetic diseases. In: Fitzpatrick's Color Atlas and Synopsis of Clinical Dermatology. 7th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2013. http://www.accessmedicine.com. Accessed Dec. 16, 2015.
- Shmerling RH. Evaluation of the adult with polyarticular pain. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Dec. 16, 2015.