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Hypothyroidism: Does it cause joint pain?

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Mar 2, 2023.

For some people, hypothyroidism that hasn't been treated can lead to joint and muscle problems. Specifically, hypothyroidism may cause:

  • Muscle aches, tenderness and stiffness.
  • Joint pain and stiffness, particularly in the hands and knees in adults.
  • Swelling of the small joints in the hands and feet.
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome.

Pain relievers you can buy without a prescription, such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) or acetaminophen (Tylenol, others), may help ease the pain. But treatment with thyroid hormone replacement medicine typically is the most effective way to relieve the symptoms of hypothyroidism, including joint and muscle pain. If you're taking thyroid hormone replacement, and you still have joint and muscle pain, your medicine dosage may need to be changed.

It's important to be aware, too, that some people who have hypothyroidism also may have other autoimmune diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis. If joint pain, stiffness and swelling don't improve after treatment with an appropriate dosage of thyroid medicine, contact your health care provider. There may be other possible causes of the pain that need to be explored.

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