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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.