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Hypothyroid Myopathy: A Cause of Muscle Pain

Hypothyroid Muscle Pain

Muscle pain is to be expected after a good workout, a long walk or some other exercise-like activity, but it shouldn’t be expected on a daily basis or when you haven’t even exerted your muscles very much. Unfortunately, while it shouldn’t happen, it does to many people and they probably don’t realize that muscle pain is yet another symptom of thyroid dysfunction.

Interestingly, muscle pain can stem from both hypo and hyperthyroidism, known as hypothyroid myopathy and hyperthyroid myopathy, respectively. This means that if you are being treated for your thyroid dysfunction and your treatment is not yet optimal, you may experience muscle pain.

While the same type of pain is experienced in both forms of thyroid dysfunction, the location is different. Those with hypothyroid myopathy will experience the following,

  • Muscle pain/weakness
  • Muscle cramps/stiffness
  • Tendonitis
  • Joint pain

Hypothyroid myopathy can also lead to carpal tunnel syndrome and, the lesser known, tarsal tunnel syndrome while hyperthyroid myopathy can result in,

  • Inability or difficulty climbing stairs
  • Inability or difficulty gripping or holding items
  • Inability or difficulty raising arms above head
  • Pain in facial and throat muscles

Thankfully, this symptom is typically resolved when the thyroid medication dose is optimized; however, this will be a process and takes time. There are some other options you can try in the meantime such as,

  • Massage – a full body or even targeted massage will help stimulate blood circulation in those areas and ease the muscle pain.
  • Warm bath/shower – the heat is a natural muscles relaxer and is extremely helpful when it comes to cramps and tension.
  • Light exercise or movement – this may be a difficult thing to accomplish if your thyroid treatment is not optimal seeing as fatigue is one of the main symptoms associated with thyroid dysfunction, but similar to a massage, movement allows for better circulation and stretching can help relieve tension and cramps.
  • Magnesium – unbeknownst to many, muscle pain and cramps can be exacerbated by a magnesium deficiency. Ask your doctor to check your magnesium levels and if necessary, begin taking a high quality supplement.
  • Rest – this seems like a no-brainer, but sometimes our muscles just need to simply relax.

If your thyroid treatment is optimized and the pain just won’t go away, it may be time to discuss some potential underlying causes with your physician. This can range from a vitamin/mineral deficiency to fibromyalgia.

Pain is not something you want to live with and experience everyday so it’s important to speak with your doctor about this symptom and about optimizing your thyroid treatment.

About the Author

Naomi Parker

Patient Advocate

Naomi Parker is a patient advocate that is enthralled by the medical field. Hypothyroidism became a topic of interest over the last few years while she worked amongst alternative medicine doctors as a front office assistant. She believes that information is key and strives to become better informed so as to help others achieve success and wellness.

Naomi has written various articles concerning hypothyroidism including information on diagnostics and treatment. She enjoys learning alongside others and passing on vital information regarding this condition. Naomi is actively monitoring and writing for the National Academy of Hypothyroidism both on the site and social media.

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Susun
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Susun

What is the maximum safe dose of magnesium a day?

Deb
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Deb

That’s why I added T3, Cytomel and lowered my Synthroid dose. I was really suffering muscle pain and my lab work (cpk) was off the charts. Within a week, my pain went down almost completely. Find a doctor who works with you.

Debra
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Debra

I was diagnosed with extreme Hypothyroidism in March. I went to the doctor initially because of my muscle pain and weakness. My Endocrynologist (spelling) said it was the worst numbers he had seen. My thyroid levels are now in the normal range including my CK levels and my muscle pain did subside somewhat but I am still experiencing a lot of pain and swelling any time I do normal every day activities. I can’t imagine living with this pain and swelling every day of my life! How long do these symptoms typically last? Am I expecting the symptoms to subside… Read more »

sahaveer reddy
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sahaveer reddy

i even had the same issue of abnormally high tsh and leg muscle tightening. it has been since a year. the tsh levels reduced but muscle pain remains same. if u have resolved ur issue of muscle pain, kindly guide me

santosh kumar
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santosh kumar

Hello, I’ve Autoimmune hypothyroidism and on T4 for last 7years. my major concern is hypothyroid myopathy which causes too much fatigue-ness, aches in my upper and lower limbs esp lower limbs and disturbing my quality of life. a friend of mine recently suggested me to try L.Carnitine to boost mitochondrial FA metabolism and magnesium. Could you guide me in this matter, please? I am afraid it might worse my hypo state. thank you

Karen
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Karen

I have been hypothyroid for several years. I am currently experiencing muscle and joint pain. I can not climb stairs well etc. Where can I find a doctor or lab to run proper tests. I’m tired of not feeling well and hurting all the time.

rob schacter
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major muscle cramps inner thighs after workout when i sit and raise legs for extended period or in middle of night .tried manesium, quinine in tonics water, potassium, electrolytes no relief rob

jacki
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jacki

I was diagnosed with Hashimotos 19 years ago. I have been taking thyroxine for all those years. I am no experiencing leg pain and stiffness and was wondering if this could be due to not being on the right dose. I have never really felt well since my diagnosis and even when I ask the doctor about my results she always says Im in the normal range. Well If that is the case Im not normal. This symptom of pain and stiffness is new and seems to be getting worse. I have also had issues with my liver function over… Read more »

Lynn
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Lynn

You sound like me. I have been on thyroid meds since I was diagnosed as a teenager, and the doctor is satisfied I am in the normal range. I take Armour Thyroid, or did – I am now on a generic version. I wonder if that could be the problem. I am now 70, but still work and stay active. But the problem is this last two years, especially the last six months, have given me leg pain, extreme stiffness, tendonitis in my right, sometimes left foot, and OTC meds help a bit but not a lot. I find the… Read more »

Becca Holton
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Naomi, I learned a lot from reading your post. It helped me get a better understanding of muscle pain. I didn’t that it could stem from both hypo and hyperthyroidism. That might be the cause of my cousin’s muscle pain.

Terry McDonald
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Terry McDonald

I have Hashimotos along with lumbar stenosis and DDD. So I’m sure a majority of my pain comes from these conditions. My question is that I have been advised by my PT to do stabilization exercises to strength core and back and stabilize my SI Joint. However as I step up my workouts it seems that’s when the pain increases. Could this be connected to muscle myopathy?

Vanessa
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Vanessa

I had a complete thyroidectomy in October, and radiation in April and I have been having issues with muscle cramp, spasm, and weakness since the beginning of July. I think it’s a medication imbalance, and it’s been slowly improving with that change, but massage feels soooo gooood guys. Just give your muscles a gentle rub, it feels amazing.

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