Muscle and Joint Pain and Hypothyroidism

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Many hypothyroid patients complain of muscle and joint pain being among the most bothersome thyroid symptoms.

As well as the intense fatigue that hypothyroidism causes, aches, pains, stiffness and weakness in joints (such as the knees and fingers, especially thyroid leg pain weakness) and muscles (such as the calves, back and feet) are well reported. I’ve had experience with it myself. 

It can keep us awake at night, cause us to need regular painkillers just to get through the day and make physical activity difficult to bear.

Muscle and Joint Pain with Hypothyroidism 

Yes, it is expected that muscle pain will appear after a long walk, workout or other activity that has caused overexertion, but it shouldn’t be expected as part of your day to day life when you haven’t exerted your muscles very much. However, it does haunt many patients living with hypothyroidism, whether they do much physically all day or not.

Yes, muscle and joint pain can be another symptom of hypothyroidism.

Muscle and joint pain caused by hypothyroidism is known as hypothyroid myopathy, and can occur all over the body, though most commonly in the legs, feet, arms, hands and back and can range from mild to severe. It also includes cramping, stiffness and weakness, but hypothyroid myopathy can also lead to carpal tunnel syndrome or frozen shoulder. Some thyroid patients may also have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia, a separate condition that causes pain all over the body or at specific points, when they are actually experiencing hypothyroid myopathy.

What Causes It?

These symptoms are often caused by thyroid levels being below optimal – especially Free T3 so please make it a priority to optimise this, low magnesium levels, low vitamin D levels or even adrenal fatigue (though it is more accurately referred to as hypothalamic-pituitary axis dysfunction).

What Can I Do?

Therefore, ensuring that all your thyroid levels are optimal, supplementing magnesium, vitamin D or using Epsom salts for baths/foot soaks and exploring whether you have adrenal fatigue and subsequently treating it, could help you resolve the symptoms. High Reverse T3 or low Free T3 levels in particular should be checked for and addressed.

Fluid retention, another somewhat common hypothyroid symptom, can cause pain, too. It’s most often seen around the ankles and feet and worsens with physical activity. This is also often solved with optimal thyroid and vitamin levels.

Other short term treatments for hypothyroid myopathy can include massaging the affected area/s, which increases blood flow and eases aches and pains, or a warm bath/foot soak which helps to relax muscles, bonus points if you use Epsom salts, which is a popular trick for relaxing and relieving tired and achy muscles, among other things (I love long, relaxing Epsom baths). You can get the ones I use by clicking here.

Magnesium spray is also popular if you prefer to not add another supplement or tablet to your daily regimen and acupuncture has been helpful to some thyroid patients, too. A magnesium spray that is particularly popular with thyroid patients is this one.

Of course, checking all your vitamin levels such as iron, ferritin, B12, D etc. is very beneficial too, as any that are low can cause fatigue among other pesky symptoms, such as muscle weakness. Vitamin D can especially cause joint stiffness and pain, so ensuring your levels are optimal is key.

But if you’ve checked all of this and are still suffering, it may be time to talk to a rheumatologist for further evaluation. Rheumatologists are experts in joint and muscle problems, and treat arthritis, some autoimmune conditions, various musculoskeletal pain disorders, fibromyalgia and tendonitis.

Do you have muscle or joint pain?

You can click on the hyperlinks in the above post to learn more and see references to information given.

Freedom From Thyroid Fatigue LogoThere is also the online thyroid course ‘Freedom From Thyroid Fatigue’, which walks you through how to overcome thyroid fatigue and flare up days with a personalised approach. You may benefit from this guidance if you still experience ongoing fatigue and low energy. 

If you found this article beneficial, please take a moment to share it so we can help others get better with hypothyroidism and Hashimoto's, whilst also raising awareness. "Be Your Own Thyroid Advocate."

Written by Rachel, The Invisible Hypothyroidism

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19 thoughts on “Muscle and Joint Pain and Hypothyroidism

  1. hi everyone, i had both thyroids removed in 2010. i had thyroid cancer,very cureable. cancer free now. my problem was and is i was put on levothyroxine and gained 50 lbs. i have spoken to others with the same problem and they also gained a large amount of weight . i was taken of of levothyroxine and put on armour thyroid. that did help. i know alot of drs. dont like armour but it works for me. my does is high 120mg. and 90 mg. every other day. my levels have been prefect for 3 yrs. i in resent months have been in so much pain thought i ober worked as i have in the past. now am wondering why the pain hasnt gone away. i have neck and shoulder pain also lower back pain butt check pain going done both legs hard to walk with taking some kind of pain meds. is this from the thyroid issuse i have. if anyone has an anwser i would love to hear it. tnaks for hearing me.

  2. I am 71, have Hashimoto for 25 years. Recently I have arm pain, and swelling in hands and arm. It is very painful and keeps me from doing daily chores. I take levothyroxine and vitamin supplements which don’t seem to help. The swelling and pain sometimes goes to wrists, ankles, knees and feet also. If any of you have experienced this, I would like to hear what you have done to reduce the pain.

  3. unlike most people with hypothyroidism I have hot hands and feet.Only started on levothyroxine in March so still on loading dose up to 50 mg .I was started on 50mgs but I had to reduce it because I felt so awful,

  4. Brilliant article. Thanks for writing! Was diagnosed with Hashimotos and not much info from GP. have mentioned how both my ankles ache as well as my finger. No aches and pains two years ago, peak fitness and climbed Kili in Africa. Now tired and feel like I have aged 20 years in 2. Makes you so fed up and the care you receive is awful!

  5. I have taken rai for graves 4 yrs ago.i bcame hypo after 6 months of that rai.my dr treated me.my problem is that my thyroid levels have bn fluctuating since thn.n my dr is not able to fix my dose.i experience muscles pain in my legs.n ankle joints.fatigue.pain in arms n shoulders.can sm one guide me what shud i do.?any life style modifications.

  6. Muscle weakness in legs and hips occurs either as a sensation or if you are fatigued enough that they lose strength.

  7. Just learned I have come down with Hashimoto after landing in the hospital. So am so glad to see this and join. I am one of those people who are frustrated because I was always so healthy and am wondering what is happening to my health. Seems also that I can’t eat anything I always ate. I see that you have a cook book I will utilize. Thanks for being here. Am having a tough time dealing with this.

    1. Me too Lynn. Two years ago I was standing 20,000 feet on top of Kilimanjaro at peak fitness. Now I have muscle aches and pains and feel tired! So frustrating. I do sympathise. Big hugs x

  8. Hi Rachel thanks for the great articles and your webpage,I’ve got hypothyroidism for the last 4 years and just got another ear infection on levothyroxine 150mcg I’ve been feeling really fatigued this week too all I seem to get is fobbed off by the doctors but managing to see an endocryolist in October is there any advice you can give me many thanks.

  9. Can you please tell me the vitamins for easing fluid retention in the ankles, my circulation is poor, especially in my left leg due to varicose veins, and my ankle looks puffy and gets sore and makes me feel like a 100 year old ?

  10. I have auto immune thyroiditis and the muscle and joint pain have been worse lately. Does anyone else have this?

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