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Can thyroid problems cause joint pain?

By Anonymous June 17, 2009 - 7:01pm
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I have been diagnosed with hypothyroidism. My thyroid is functioning at 1% which leads the doctor to believe I have thyroid cancer. My symptoms are: pain in the neck, jaw, and ear, fatigue, sore joints, fever, chills, and excessive sweating.

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Anon, welcome to EmpowHer! And thank you so much for your question. Let's see what we can find out for you.

First of all, here is our encyclopedia page on hypothyroidism, a condition in which the thyroid is not producing enough thyroid hormone. This page has a list of possible causes, symptoms, treatments and more:


To answer your first question, yes, it appears that hypothyroidism could be responsible for most of the symptoms you list. Here is the list of symptoms from our page:

◦Coarse, brittle hair; hair loss
◦Facial puffiness
◦Dry skin
◦Swollen hands or feet
◦Cold intolerance
◦Weight gain
◦Achy feeling all over
◦Depression and irritability
◦Memory loss
◦Difficulty with concentration
◦Blurred vision
◦Menstrual abnormalities or infertility

Symptoms of severe or prolonged cases include:

◦Stupor or coma
◦Slow heart rate
◦Depressed breathing
◦Hypothermia (low body temperature)

I'm not sure if the symptom "achy feeling all over" really covers the amount of specific pain you have been having in the neck, jaw and ear. Did your doctor seem to think they were related?

Is this a brand-new diagnosis, the hypothyroidism? I'm a little concerned about how quickly your doctor went to a probability of thyroid cancer. Are there other things that lead her or him to believe that? Are you seeing an endocrinologist or just your primary care doctor?

What is recommended for your treatment now? Have you started any medicine? Does your doctor plan to do a biopsy? Will you seek a second opinion?

Here is a page from the American Thyroid Association that has links to several "web brochures" about hypothyroidism, thyroid treatment and cancer of the thyroid:


You didn't mention whether your doctor felt any lump or bump in the thyroid area. Do you remember if she/he did? Because that is one of the symptoms of thyroid cancer, and it can cause the kind of pain you are mentioning. Here's an excerpt from the ATA website:

"What are the symptoms of thyroid cancer?
"The key sign of thyroid cancer is a lump (nodule) in the thyroid, and most thyroid cancers do not cause any symptoms (see Thyroid Nodule brochure). Instead, your doctor may discover the nodule during a routine physical examination or you may notice a lump in your neck while looking in a mirror. A few patients with thyroid cancer complain of pain in the neck, jaw or ear. If the cancer is large enough, it may cause difficulty swallowing or cause a “tickle in the throat” or shortness of breath if it is pressing on the windpipe. Rarely, hoarseness can be caused if the cancer irritates a nerve to the voice box."

It goes on to mention types of thyroid cancer, and the various treatments (surgery, iodine, etc).

And here are a couple other resources for you:


Does this help? Do you feel like you're on the right path for treatment and followup?

June 19, 2009 - 8:44am
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