I must admit that I’m becoming increasingly frustrated since so many different things can be the cause of back pain. And to boot, the thyroid back pain connection is often overlooked and not clearly understood by the various doctors one might see for the seemingly completely different issues. If you see a chiropractor or physical therapist for back pain, how much do think they understand about thyroid disorders? Not much more than the endocrinologist who treats the thyroid would understand about the source of your back pain, I bet. But besides back pain being an actual symptom of low thyroid levels, so many other symptoms and related conditions can lead to or aggravate back pain.
I’ve suffered from low back pain episodes most of my life and over 10 years ago, I was diagnosed with Graves Disease which is an auto-immune disorder that results in hyperthyroidism. Since the medical profession has no cure for hyperthyroidism, the answer is to take radioactive iodine to “kill” the thyroid function. So the patient becomes hypothyroid instead which the experts know how to treat with hormone replacement. Ever since I took my second dose of radioactive iodine (the first didn’t take), my back pain issues worsened greatly and episodes became much more frequent.
So Let’s Make The Connection With Common Hypothyroid Symptoms
Muscle Aches And Stiffness – Yes, I started with the most obvious. Some of the most common causes of back pain are muscle spasms, soreness and inflexibility.
Pain And Swelling Of Joints – Not only is the spine comprised entirely of facet joints, but pain and swelling in other joints such as the knees or ankles can lead to back troubles due to “compensating” movements.
Weight Gain – Despite inconclusive studies, most experts agree that maintaining a healthy weight is especially important in reducing episodes, speeding healing and preventing future back pain flare-ups.
Fatigue – When we’re tired, we are more likely to inadvertently injure ourselves as well as less likely to maintain proper posture.
Menstrual Irregularities – All women know that PMS can definitely cause lower back pain not to mention that it also wreaks havoc on our overall physical and emotional well-being.
Now, Here’s Some Factors That Are Not (Quite) So Obvious
Mood Disorders – Such as anxiety and/or depression which have not only been directly correlated to chronic pain but also lead to issues caused by the stress and tension of the disorder.
Weakened Immune System – Hypothyroidism is by definition an auto-immune disorder and that means that anything that can go wrong, will go wrong and your “system” is not able to adequately fight back.
Increased Risk Of Other Auto-Immune Disorders – Arthritis, Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (just to name a few) all of which can lead to back pain symptoms.
Sleep Disorders – Again relating to issues that can be caused by fatigue, waking at night for any reason and having to pace around to “loosen” up is only going to lead to problems the next day.
Lack Of Coordination – This can lead to accidental injuries due to twisting, bending, falling or simply moving without ultimate control of the action.
It is important to recognize that someone can have an over or under active thyroid without having true hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism. And these symptoms might overlap in any case but back pain alone is not an indicator of a thyroid disorder. Since I’m here for you patient to patient, I must suggest that you speak with your doctor and have the appropriate blood tests performed, if recommended, to obtain an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan.
If you have already been diagnosed and undergoing treatment for hypothyroidism, Living Well with Hypothyroidism: What Your Doctor Doesn’t Tell You… That You Need to Know (Revised Edition) by Mary J. Shomon is an awesome book that I discovered during my many years as an Assistant Store Manager at (now) the only retail book chain existing.
Your back pain symptoms may disappear, subside or unfortunately persist with appropriate treatment for a thyroid condition. Nonetheless, it is imperative to be treated for thyroid dysfunction since it can lead to life-threatening circumstances. As always, I wish you find the answer(s) to ending your back pain. I would love to hear from you today, just drop in a comment or question.