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Aches and pains aren’t just from aging

Doctors learn in medical school, but perhaps tend to forget, that low thyroid function can cause joint pain. This condition also causes muscle aches, tenderness and stiffness (especially in the shoulders and hips), swelling of the knee joint and small joints in the hands and feet, and carpal tunnel syndrome.

This connection is not that surprising, since thyroid hormones play a role in cartilage and joint metabolism, bone metabolism, peripheral blood flow, nerve conduction, and proper reflex response. It’s a fact that low thyroid function increases the risk for carpal tunnel syndrome, fibromyalgia, Raynaud’s syndrome, osteoarthritis, muscle weakness and poor nerve conduction.

Low thyroid levels can be the root cause for these and other disorders, especially joint and muscle pain “of unknown etiology”, doctor-ese for “we don’t know what’s causing it.” The pain may be attributed to aging, overuse, obesity, vague “pain syndromes” or any other number of diagnoses. But if you also have symptoms of fatigue, “brain fog” or depression, or cold intolerance, think “low thyroid.”

If this sounds like you, I suggest you check your body temperature. (For directions on how to do this properly, see “How are body temperatures measured” on our website. ) If your body temperature is consistently low —below 98.5 F., or 36.94 C, but typically lower than 97.8 F, or 36.56 C.—there is a good chance that you have low thyroid hormone function. You can have this even if you have normal Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) and even if you are taking T4 (Synthroid, or levothyroxine.) It may be that your body is not converting T4, the inactive form of thyroid hormone, to T3, the active form, which it does mostly in peripheral tissues. This problem does not show up in standard thyroid screening tests.

Low body temperature can be corrected with a course of T3, a prescription drug. This can take a matter of weeks or months, but, as body temperature comes back to normal, many people’s symptoms of muscle and joint pain lessen.

If you’re someone who might benefit from this therapy, share this article with your doctor, who can call us at 800.420.5801 to get more information about how to use T3, along with nutritional and herbs to support thyroid health, and to discuss your individual case. You can also use our website to find the health care practitioner closest to you who is trained in T3 treatment.

The sooner you get back on track temp-wise, the less permanent damage you will sustain, the more you will be able to use your body with ease, to exercise, have fun and stay healthy for a long time.

Bay-Jensen AC, Slagboom E, Chen-An P, et al. Role of hormones in cartilage and joint metabolism: understanding an unhealthy metabolic phenotype in osteoarthritis. Menopause. 2013 May;20(5):578-86.
Chakravarty SD, Markenson JA. Rheumatic manifestations of endocrine disease. Curr Opin Rheumatol. 2013 Jan;25(1):37-43.

Longato L, Tarocco RP, Anania A, et al. Arthropathies and thyroid diseases. Minerva Endocrinol. 2004 Jun;29(2):55-62.

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