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July 08, 2023 7 min read

You probably know hypothyroidism as a disorder connected primarily with the underproduction of thyroid hormones. This medical condition primarily affects metabolism, yet you might be surprised to discover it also impacts other aspects of health, including joint and muscle health.

What is hypothyroidism?

Ever wondered about the butterfly-shaped gland at the base of your neck? That's your thyroid gland, and it has a big job to do. It produces thyroid hormone, which controls the speed of your metabolism and also impacts the function of your heart, brain, kidneys, and other crucial organs. But what happens when this tiny power plant isn't producing enough? This situation is what is called hypothyroidism.

Hypothyroidism, in straightforward terms, is a disorder where the thyroid gland doesn't produce and secrete enough thyroid hormones. That's why it's sometimes referred to as underactive thyroid. This underproduction slows down the metabolism and can disrupt the normal functioning of the body.

Now, when your thyroid isn't performing its best, your body may give you some clues. The symptoms of hypothyroidism usually develop slowly over a few years. Some common signs include:

  • Fatigue

  • Increased sensitivity to cold

  • Constipation

  • Dry skin

  • Weight gain

  • Puffiness in the face

  • Hoarseness

  • Muscle weakness

  • High blood cholesterol level

  • Heavier than normal or irregular menstrual periods

  • Slowed heart rate

  • Depression

  • Impaired memory

  • Muscle aches, tenderness, and stiffness, including joint pain.

Hypothyroidism is among the most common thyroid disorders, and it can result from several factors. It may be due to autoimmune diseases, such as Hashimoto's thyroiditis, where your immune system wrongly attacks the thyroid gland. Other causes can include radiation therapy, certain medicines, thyroid surgery, and, rarely, a pituitary disorder.

How can hypothyroidism cause joint pain?

For some people whit hypothyroidism, joint pain can feel like an inescapable symptom. Here are some ways hypothyroidism can cause joint and muscle pain:

Autoimmune disorders

One reason for joint pain from hypothyroidism might be poly autoimmunity - the presence of more than one autoimmune disease in a person. Individuals with autoimmune thyroid disease like Hashimoto's thyroiditis can find themselves diagnosed with other autoimmune diseases. This coexistence of autoimmune diseases is something that researchers are currently investigating, but it's speculated that genetics might be a significant factor.

To be precise, research indicates that rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a common coexisting autoimmune condition in individuals with Hashimoto's. Thus, a lot of people with Hashimoto's disease may experience joint pain, muscle aches, knee pain, and even carpal tunnel syndrome.

Fluid build-up

The most common characteristic of autoimmune conditions is inflammation resulting from the overactivity of the immune system. This response, particularly in individuals with hypothyroidism, can lead to fluid build-up in the interstitial compartments or tissue spaces surrounding tissue cells. This fluid retention not only contributes to potential weight gain but could also cause swelling when the body is inflamed. As a result of this fluid accumulation, tissue compression may occur around nerves leading to nerve damage and thus causing pain and stiffness.

The role of thyroid hormones in tissue development

When one talks about hypothyroidism and joint pain, it's interesting to consider the role of thyroid hormones. These hormones essentially hold influence over the development of many tissues, and this includes bone and cartilage reproduction and growth at a cellular level. As such, hypothyroidism, or a lack of adequate thyroid hormones, can result in musculoskeletal symptoms, which could be anything from general muscle and joint aches to actual muscle disease or arthritis. Often, the joint pain or symptoms in adult hypothyroid patients involve the knees and hands.

Other health conditions

While hypothyroidism does indeed cause joint and muscle problems, it's essential to note that joint pain is common in many other health conditions. It can be triggered by a variety of issues, such as injuries, trauma, or overuse of the joint, as well as diseases, including:

  • Arthritis

  • Bursitis

  • Tendonitis

  • Lupus

  • Infectious diseases like influenza and hepatitis

  • Bone or joint infection

  • Cancer

  • Fibromyalgia

  • Osteoporosis

  • Sarcoidosis

  • Gout

So, the big take-home here is that joint pain, while indeed associated with hypothyroidism, is a common symptom across a host of different conditions.

How can you relieve joint pain caused by hypothyroidism?

There are ways you can effectively manage and ease joint and muscle pain caused by hypothyroidism. These include:

1. Manage your hypothyroidism properly

Managing your hypothyroidism properly is crucial in alleviating joint pain, as these symptoms often arise from an underactive or poorly controlled thyroid. To restore ideal thyroid function, doctors commonly prescribe thyroid hormone-replacement medicine, such as Levothyroxine or Natural Desiccated Thyroid (NDT).

Levothyroxine is a synthetic hormone that mimics thyroxine, a hormone naturally produced by your thyroid gland. This medication helps restore normal thyroid hormone levels in your body, aiding in the regulation of your body's energy and metabolism. Levothyroxine is designed to replace or provide more of the thyroid hormone, effectively mitigating the symptoms of hypothyroidism.

On the other hand, Natural Desiccated Thyroid (NDT) is a medication derived from the dried thyroid glands of pigs. It contains both T4 (thyroxine) and T3 (triiodothyronine), the two primary hormones that the thyroid gland naturally produces. While Levothyroxine only provides T4, NDT provides both T3 and T4, which some practitioners believe possibly offers a therapeutic advantage.

The reason some people might prefer NDT over Levothyroxine is due to the concerns about some patients' ability to convert T4 into T3. Thus, by providing both hormones, NDT can offer improved symptom relief for some patients.

NDT is versatile in its use, available in both prescription medication and over-the-counter supplement forms. In the United States, Armour Thyroid and NP Thyroid are among the most popularly prescribed brands of NDT. These medications are typically favored by healthcare providers due to their efficacy and reliability.

However, there's also an alternative route for those who prefer a non-prescription approach. VitaliThy, a natural desiccated thyroid you can buy online, is a great option. What sets VitaliThy apart is its conscientious formulation. This NDT supplement is formulated without lactose, gluten, eggs, fish, and shellfish, ensuring it is safe for individuals with dietary restrictions or specific allergies to these components.

Moreover, VitaliThy does not contain any artificial colors or flavors, which can be an important factor for those focusing on clean living or avoiding unnecessary additives in their supplements.

2. Investigate and address additional causes of joint pain

Joint pain isn't exclusively caused by hypothyroidism; there could be other contributing sources. A thorough physical exam and potentially additional medical testing can identify other causes of joint pain. Once identified, appropriate treatment plans can be initiated, helping to relieve your discomfort effectively.

3. Incorporate low-impact aerobic exercises

Physical activity is key to alleviating joint pain. Low-impact aerobic exercises, such as swimming or cycling, work your cardiovascular system without putting much pressure on your joints. Regular exercise can ease stiffness, enhance mobility, and ultimately improve your overall joint health.

4. Strengthen your muscles

Strong muscles provide better support for your joints. Resistance and weight-bearing exercises, like weightlifting, can strengthen the muscles around your joints, promoting weight loss and reducing joint stress. Before you begin any new exercise regimen, consult your healthcare provider to confirm it's suitable for your current health scenario.

5. Stick to a healthy diet

Maintaining a nutritious and balanced diet can play a significant role in managing joint pain. Consuming foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, like fish, nuts, or seeds, can help reduce inflammation. Fruits, vegetables, lean protein, whole grains, and plenty of water will also support your overall health and aid weight management.

6. Practice yoga to improve flexibility

Yoga helps stretch and strengthen your muscles, improving overall flexibility and posture. With its combination of physical postures, breathing exercises, and meditation, it offers a unique blend of physical and mental benefits that can help manage joint pain.

7. Keep stress levels under control

Stress can augment your perception of pain. Hence, it's essential to manage your stress levels effectively. Methods of stress relief differ from person to person—some may find solace in quiet reading, while others prefer engaging in physical activity or spending time with loved ones. Find what works best for you and make it a regular part of your routine.

8. Prioritize good quality sleep

A good night's sleep helps regenerate and repair your body's tissues, potentially easing joint pain. Aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep per night, and establish a routine that involves going to bed and waking up at the same time each day.

9. Maintain a healthy weight

Carrying excess weight can exacerbate joint pain by putting additional pressure on your joints. Reaching and maintaining a healthy weight through a balanced diet and regular exercise can ease this pressure, subsequently relieving joint pain.

10. Engage in meditation

The practice of meditation encourages relaxation and reduces stress, both of which can help manage joint pain. It stimulates the body's production of endorphins, the natural substances in your body that relieve pain.

Conclusion: Joint pain due to hypothyroidism can be effectively eased

Experiencing joint and muscle pain with hypothyroidism can weigh heavily on your daily life, but rest assured—there are ways to manage it. The first line of defense should always be treating your hypothyroidism itself. Effective management of this condition with thyroid hormone-replacement medications, such as Levothyroxine or Natural Desiccated Thyroid, can significantly help in relieving your hypothyroidism symptoms.

If you're considering a Natural Desiccated Thyroid option, VitaliThy is a standout choice. This non-prescription NDT supplement is carefully formulated to satisfy even the most specific dietary needs, free from lactose, gluten, egg, fish, and shellfish. It's also devoid of artificial colors and flavors, meaning you can rightfully claim you're treating your thyroid — the natural way. Plus, you can buy this desiccated thyroid online!

Also, don't shy away from exploring other causes of joint pain or taking steps to relieve it directly. Low-impact aerobic exercises, muscle strengthening with resistance training, maintaining a balanced diet, regular yoga practice, effective stress management, and a stable sleep routine can all contribute to pain reduction.

Aim to maintain a healthy weight, as excess weight can worsen discomfort by putting undue pressure on your joints. Meditation can be particularly beneficial, not just for stress relief but also because it stimulates the production of endorphins - your body's natural painkillers.

Wojciech Majda
Wojciech Majda

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