Hyperthyroidism versus Hypothyroidism
Hyperthyroidism is the overproduction of your thyroid hormones. It is characterized by weight loss, regardless of your food intake; weakness; sensitivity to heat; and a rapid heartbeat.
Hypothyroidism is the underproduction of your thyroid hormones. It is characterized by weight gain, regardless of your food intake; increased sensitivity to cold; dry skin, to the point of cracking; paleness; dry hair; fatigue’ and mental fog. Hypothyroidism also produces arthralgia – joint pain and stiffness.
How to Treat Your Joint Pain?
Treating joint pain caused by hypothyroidism is no different from treating joint pain and stiffness from osteoarthritis: the same over-the-counter topical analgesics; the same over-the-counter oral analgesics; the same braces; the same heat and cold treatments. The difference between arthralgia from hypothyroidism and arthritis is there’s something you can do about the root cause of your pain.
Hypothyroidism is treated by replacing the hormones your thyroid is not producing in sufficient quantities. Generally, the hormone replaced is T4, as T3 can be synthesized by the body from T4. T3 replacements are available, but are not generally prescribed. If you replace the missing hormones, your hypothyroidism-induced arthralgia will eventually disappear. How long it takes depends on you and your particular metabolism.
There are nutraceuticals to treat hypothyroidism; the first approach is usually your diet. The second is to find a natural thyroid replacement. Armor markets thyroid USP, a form of porcine thyroxin. Before the advent of synthetic thyroxin, desiccated thyroid glands were the only form of treatment for hypothyroidism, and had been used safely for 100 years before Synthroid hit the market.
It is difficult to find an allopathic physician who will prescribe desiccated thyroid instead of the synthetic product, even if his patients do better and feel better on the natural product. There are also other supplements to help your thyroid; surf the web, talk to your holistic or integrative physician, naturopath or health food store worker about what supplements you should try.
If the hormone replacement does not totally alleviate your arthralgia, then you need to treat your joint pains the same way you would treat arthritis How you decide to treat it depends on your philosophy. If you believe in allopathic medicine, see a rheumatologist and follow his advice. Be prepared for nasty side effects from the allopathic drugs the rheumatologist will prescribe.
Also be prepared for your body to become inured to the drugs, requiring you to up the dose or change the drug. If your hypothyroidism is not controllable, the joints may suffer damage, especially the weight-bearing ones, and an allopathic doctor will eventually recommend joint replacements.
If you believe in alternative therapies, then you need to find an integrative or holistic physician, a naturopath, or an extremely knowledgeable lay person, preferably working in a good, local health food store. These folks will be your guide to the supplements and therapies you need to alleviate your pain.
There are myriad choices in the natural world for joint pain, and just as you are individualistic, so are they; one supplement does not help all. You will have to embark on a trial-and-error process while you find the combination of supplements and therapies that will work for you.
If you have a foot in both camps, you will still need to find an integrative or holistic physician, a naturopath, or an extremely knowledgeable lay person to help with the holistic, or alternative, side of your therapies.
You can figure this out yourself, but it takes time, and wading in the Internet waters can be confusing, and costly, if you fall for some of the quack and shyster pitches you will run into as you navigate the web.
Treating hypothyroid-induced arthralgia is no different from treating arthritis, or injury-induced joint pain and stiffness. The model you follow will be decided by your healthcare philosophy. Treating the hypothyroid is paramount, as hypothyroid-induced arthralgia, in the main, will go away if proper thyroid hormone levels are achieved.
For those whose arthralgia does not go away with proper thyroid hormone balance, you should consider seeing the healthcare practitioner of your choice, because you may have another chronic condition to worry about.
- Allahabadia A, Razvi S, Abraham P, Franklyn J. Diagnosis and treatment of primary hypothyroidism. BMJ. 2009 Mar 26;338:b725. doi: 10.1136/bmj.b725.
- Brent GA, Larsen PR, Davies TF. Hypothyroidism and thyroiditis. In: Kronenberg: HM, Shlomo M, Polonsky KR, Larsen PR, eds. Williams Textbook of Endocrinology. 11th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2008:chap 12.
- WILSON, J., AND WALTON, J. N. (1959) J. Neurol. Neurosurg. Psychiat., 22, 320 (Some muscular manifestations of hypothyroidism).