Musculoskeletal Manifestations from Thyroid Disease

January is National Thyroid Awareness Month! Thyroid disease affects an estimated twenty million Americans, with up to 60 percent not even knowing that they have it. Symptoms can be hard to identify and easy to pass off as part of life.

The thyroid is a gland that is located on the lower part of the neck, right under the Adam’s apple. The thyroid’s job is to secrete hormones. Thyroid hormones help with metabolism, regulate body temperature, and assist in growth and development.


  • Women are 5-8 times more likely than men to experience thyroid problems
  • 1 in 8 women will develop a thyroid disorder in her lifetime
  • The cause of thyroid problems is largely unknown
  • Cardiovascular diseases, osteoporosis and infertility are serious conditions that can occur if thyroid disease goes undiagnosed
  • It is important for pregnant women to be diagnosed and treated adequately. If not, risks include miscarriage, preterm delivery and severe developmental problems in their children
  • Most thyroid diseases are life-long and can be managed with proper medical attention

Thyroid Disorders by Patient Diagnosis

Hyperthyroidism: Racing heart rate, Palpitations, Anxiety, Insomnia, Nervousness, Weight loss with increased appetite, Excessive sweating/heat intolerance, Muscle weakness

Hypothyroidism: Fatigue/sluggishness (mental and physical), Cold intolerance, Constipation, Hair loss, Weight gain, Depression, Iregular menstrual periods,

Goiters: A goiter is an enlarged thyroid. Not only can it cause the neck to look swollen, but it can also interfere with swallowing and breathing. It is typically caused by a lack of iodine in the diet. However, in the United States salt is typically iodized, and therefore, goiters are more likely due to hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism.

Thyroid Cancer & Nodules: Thyroid nodules are very common and are present in 60-70% of middle-aged women. Most thyroid cancers respond to treatment, but a small percentage can be very aggressive.

Graves’ Disease an autoimmune disorder.

Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis an autoimmune disorder

How Physical Therapy can Help

First, it helps to rebuild activity tolerance, increase muscle strength, and reduce apathy secondary to the decreased metabolism caused by the disorder. Exercise to help correct such problems should only be implemented once the patient has begun hormone replacement therapy, otherwise, the issues cannot be resolved. Increasing the patient’s exercise tolerance can also be extremely helpful for patients who are severely constipated from the disorder. It helps increase the peristaltic activity and overall metabolism.

According to a study by NCIB, “Our data suggest that early patient mobilization and physical activity during an active and intensive rehabilitation program induce recovery of thyroid function and avoid the occurrence of nonthyroidal illness syndrome.”

If you are struggling with a thyroid issue and would like to address any musculoskeletal symptoms you are experiencing with that issue, we are here to help. Oprah suffers from thyroid disease, she manages it and you can too.

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Musculoskeletal Manifestations from Thyroid Disease

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