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July 08, 2023 8 min read

Wondering why your hands won't stop shaking and if it has something to do with your thyroid? You're not alone. Here's what you need to know about the connection between hypothyroidism and tremors.

What is hypothyroidism?

Hypothyroidism is a medical condition related to the thyroid gland, a butterfly-shaped gland located above your collarbone in your neck. This small yet formidable gland heavily influences our body's metabolic functions, growth, and development.

Under normal circumstances, the thyroid gland produces vital hormones, specifically Thyroxine (T4) and Triiodothyronine (T3). Intriguingly, these hormones' production is regulated by another entity—the thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH). Dispatched from the pituitary gland, TSH shoulders the responsibility of keeping the thyroid gland in check, stimulating it to amp up thyroid hormone production when necessary.

However, in the case of hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid gland), the thyroid gland decides to take a slower route. It falls short of its responsibilities and does not produce adequate amounts of T4 and T3. The result: a deficiency of these vital hormones in our bodies.

Understanding the function of T3 and T4 within the bodily system unveils how deeply impactful their roles are. These hormones are primarily responsible for regulating the metabolism of our bodies, influencing the functioning of multiple organs. They control heart health, enable brain functions, maintain skin integrity, and ensure muscle health; in essence, they're essentially responsible for the well-oiled functioning of your body.

When T3 and T4 fall short, the disruption can lead to an array of symptoms, including persistent fatigue, weight gain, intolerance to colds, and potential hand tremors. If you're wondering how a hormonal hiccup could lead to something as unrelated as hand tremors, bear in mind that these small hormones can exhibit a vast range of influences on the body!

There are numerous conditions that can cause hypothyroidism, such as Hashimoto's disease (an autoimmune thyroid disease where the immune system attacks the thyroid gland), radioactive iodine to treat hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid gland), and surgical removal of the thyroid gland to treat thyroid cancer. Other causes of hypothyroidism include abnormalities within the thyroid gland itself, such as 'thyroid nodules' or an 'enlarged thyroid gland'. Thyroid nodules are abnormal growths or lumps in the thyroid gland, and an enlarged thyroid gland—often referred to as 'goitre'— can curb the smooth production of thyroid hormones, leading to hypothyroidism and related symptoms.

Can hypothyroidism cause hand tremors?

Thyroid tremors: Hands won't stop shaking? Find out how to manage it!

On the surface, one might think an underactive thyroid or hypothyroidism, which leads to lower levels of thyroid hormones, may be a likely cause of hand tremors. However, in an interesting twist, hypothyroidism isn't typically the direct culprit behind this symptom. This means if you've noticed your hands shaking, it's usually not a direct result of insufficient thyroid hormone production.

So, where does the connection between hypothyroidism and hand tremors come in? The answer lies not so much in the condition of hypothyroidism itself but rather in its treatment. As part of hypothyroidism management, most individuals are prescribed thyroid hormone replacement therapy. This treatment is aimed at replenishing the deficit of thyroid hormones, effectively bringing thyroid functionality back into balance. A commonly prescribed medication for this purpose is levothyroxine.

But just as with any medication, getting the dosage right is the key. The objective of thyroid hormone replacement therapy is to replicate the natural hormonal balance as closely as possible. However, when the intake of these replacement hormones results in too much thyroid hormone in the body, we veer into the territory of over-replacement or, in a sense, an overcorrection of hypothyroidism.

In such scenarios, the body, instead of being in a state of hypothyroidism, mimics symptoms of hyperthyroidism, a condition characterized by an overabundance of thyroid hormones. When there is excess thyroid hormone coursing through your system, it revs up bodily functions, manifesting in symptoms such as restlessness, rapid heart rate, increased sweating, and —you guessed it— those bothersome hand tremors.

Thus, oddly enough, the treatment for hypothyroidism, if not optimally administered, can create a counter scenario that triggers symptoms atypical of the condition. In a nutshell, if you're asking, "Does hypothyroidism cause tremors?" the answer is complex. Hand tremors, typically not associated with hypothyroidism, can indeed surface as a side effect of the very treatment meant to manage it. So, if your hands have been feeling shaky, it's best to consult with your healthcare provider to review your current thyroid hormone medication and dosage, ensuring that the pendulum hasn't swung too far the other way.

Are there any other potential causes?

Thyroid tremors: Hands won't stop shaking? Find out how to manage it!

Don't let the impression that thyroid-hand tremor-related discussions are one-dimensional fool you! The story of shaking hands is akin to peeling layers of an onion, revealing more intricate nuances about our thyroid function with each layer. One of these complexities is the conversion of T4 to the much-needed T3, which, surprisingly, doesn't occur as smoothly as you'd expect in all bodies.

To quickly recap, T4 and T3 are two vital hormones produced by the thyroid gland that are integral for maintaining normal thyroid hormone levels and ensuring optimal bodily functions. Under normal circumstances, the thyroid gland produces more T4 than T3 despite T3 being the significantly more potent of the two. But the human body is an ingeniously designed system that converts the 'less potent' T4 to the 'action-packed' T3 as needed.

This T4 to T3 conversion, as simple as it may sound, is a critical part of maintaining thyroid hormone balance. However, in some individuals, this conversion process doesn't take place as effectively as it should—a medical scenario commonly referred to as 'impaired T4 to T3 conversion'.

Unfortunately, most conventional hypothyroidism treatments, like levothyroxine, tend to focus more on replenishing the T4 hormone. The assumption lies in the body's presumed ability to convert the required amount of T4 into T3, thus maintaining optimal thyroid hormone levels. Alas, this isn't always the case. Individuals struggling with impaired T4 to T3 conversion, despite having plenty of T4 circulating in their system, may face a deficit of the highly potent T3.

What impact does this have on the body? Despite being on treatment and having what looks like a normal range of thyroid hormone levels (due to sufficient amounts of T4), these individuals continue to experience hypothyroid symptoms. The reason is the underlying T3 shortage that might elude conventional testing, which often focuses predominantly on TSH and T4 levels.

And yes, among the broad spectrum of these 'residual' hypothyroid symptoms, you'll find our very focal point - hand tremors.

Adding another layer to the story, there's also the possibility of excessively high levels of T4 hormone in your system causing a whole new set of issues. This situation might resemble as if the thyroid gland is overactive, even when it technically isn't. The extra T4 hormone can trigger similar symptoms to those seen in hyperthyroidism as your body tries to manage the hormone overflow.

So, in this case, you could experience hand tremors, along with feelings of anxiety and a faster metabolic rate—all signs usually associated with an overactive thyroid. This occurrence emphasizes the delicate and fine-tuned balancing act required to maintain optimal thyroid hormone levels. Any swing in the pendulum—be it towards deficiency or excess—can kickstart a domino effect of confusing symptoms, including the unusual shaking of hands.

What can you do about hand tremors?

Although the paths to this trembling territory are many, there are equally numerous ways to navigate your way back to a tremor-free life.

1. Adjust your dosage

At the core of managing your hypothyroidism and its related symptoms lies one crucial aspect: moderation. Striking the right balance in your medication dosage is fundamental and could be the key to smooth sailing on your journey with hypothyroidism. But how can you adjust your dosage appropriately?

Effective communication is the frontline defence in your battle with fluctuating thyroid hormone levels. Sharing with your healthcare provider about your symptoms, specifically the hand tremors, could provide valuable insight into the current effectiveness of your thyroid replacement therapy. Each symptom you experience paints a broader picture of your body's current status and response to the ongoing treatment.

With these symptoms in mind, your healthcare provider would likely recommend blood tests as part of thyroid function tests. These tests, such as testing for levels of Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH), T4, and T3, provide essential data about whether your body has enough thyroid hormone or is swinging towards an excess.

The aim, remember, isn't to banish all symptoms at once by flooding your system with thyroid hormones. You're seeking that 'Goldilocks' sweet spot—neither too much nor too little thyroid hormone—just enough to keep your bodily functions running smoothly. This precise balance between deficiency and excess is essential in managing your hypothyroid symptoms while preventing a whole new wave of side effects from surfacing due to the unnecessary overconsumption of hormone replacement drugs.

Remember, medications used in thyroid replacement therapy are potent and can have significant effects on your body. Thus, any adjustments in your dosage should only be made under professional medical supervision. Never attempt to self-adjust your dosage based on symptoms alone. Your healthcare provider's guidance, aided by the detailed insights from your thyroid function tests, ensures a safe and effective path towards managing your hypothyroidism symptoms, including those troublesome hand tremors.

2. Switch to Natural Desiccated Thyroid (NDT)

When it comes to treating hypothyroidism, one size definitely doesn't fit all. If conventional approaches involving synthetic thyroid hormones aren't hitting the mark, you might want to consider exploring an alternative option: Natural Desiccated Thyroid (NDT).

Sometimes, the body might struggle to convert synthetic T4 into T3, leading to a persistence of symptoms despite treatment. In such instances, NDT might step up as a potential game-changer. But what exactly is this relatively cloistered secret called NDT?

NDT is a unique form of thyroid hormone replacement therapy that has been around for more than a century. Unlike the synthetic hormones that are often a mainstay in hypothyroid treatment, NDT is derived from the dried or "desiccated" thyroid glands of pigs. This dried gland is processed into a consistent, standardized mixture that contains both T4 and the more bioactive T3.

Essentially, NDT offers your body a combination of thyroid hormones, sparing it the task of converting T4 to T3. This can be a significant advantage, especially for those who face challenges with adequate T4-T3 conversion. By providing a ready source of both hormones, NDT might help keep your thyroid hormone levels balanced, thereby helping manage hypothyroid symptoms more effectively. This approach could potentially be the key to solving those pesky hand tremor issues you've been experiencing.

If you're considering venturing down the Natural Desiccated Thyroid (NDT) route for managing your hypothyroidism, you'll find several avenues open to you in the form of both medications and supplements.

Popular NDT medications approved in the U.S. include names like Armour Thyroid and NP Thyroid. These medications are a go-to for many dealing with hypothyroid symptoms and have been used for decades as a form of thyroid hormone replacement therapy. Typically, they are prescribed by physicians based on your specific thyroid hormone levels and symptoms, tailoring the therapy to your body's specific needs.

For those who prefer a retail approach or perhaps live outside the U.S., the digital world offers online access to desiccated thyroid in the form of supplements. One such option is VitaliThy, a natural desiccated thyroid you can buy online. This is a particularly intriguing product as it takes a comprehensive approach to thyroid health.

Apart from providing the essential T4 and T3 hormones derived from desiccated thyroid, VitaliThy is also enriched with a few natural extracts and compounds aimed at bolstering overall thyroid and bodily health. These include spica prunellae siccus extract, a traditional herbal product known for its potential immune-boosting properties. It also incorporates ashwagandha extract, a popular adaptogen recognized for its role in helping the body manage stress, and selenium yeast, a form of selenium that's beneficial for the production of thyroid hormones and the protection of the thyroid gland.

Thyroid tremors: Hands won't stop shaking? Find out how to manage it!

Conclusion: Hypothyroidism itself doesn't cause tremors

Bringing things full circle, it's clear that the connection between hypothyroidism and hand tremors is anything but straightforward. Contrary to initial assumptions, hypothyroidism per se usually isn't the direct instigator behind your shaky hands. As we've discovered, the major plot twist is found in the potential repercussions of hypothyroidism treatments, such as thyroid hormone replacement therapies, where a pendulum swing towards overcorrection can cause these unexpected symptoms.

If we dig deeper, we find another layer of complexity in the body's intricate mechanism of converting T4 to T3, which presents its very own set of challenges, symptoms, and solutions.

Navigating through these complexities might seem daunting, but as this discussion suggests, every problem has a solution, or in this case, multiple ones. From perfecting the dosage under your healthcare provider's competent guidance to the possibility of exploring the alternative route of Natural Desiccated Thyroid therapy, the keys to efficient hypothyroidism management and, consequently, hand tremor resolution are at your disposal.

Wojciech Majda
Wojciech Majda

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