For every 100 Americans, eight men and 35 women are diagnosed with Hashimoto’s disease, nearly 5% of the population. Hashimoto’s disease is one of several thyroid disorders named after the Japanese surgeon who discovered it causes the thyroid to become underactive. It leads to hypothyroidism, but they are not the same condition. If left untreated, symptoms may become dire. Fortunately, effective treatments are available and can reduce common symptoms such as joint pain.
Hashimoto’s Link to Joint Pain
Hashimoto’s disease is an autoimmune disorder. The body mistakes the thyroid for an unwanted pathogen and attacks it, causing chronic thyroid inflammation. Over time, the thyroid weakens and cannot perform its duties. Specifically, the thyroid cannot produce the hormones associated with the body’s energy use, affecting all the body’s organs.
Having Hashimoto’s disease or any other autoimmune disorder makes it more likely that a person will develop a second or third autoimmune disorder. For example, someone with Hashimoto’s disease may also have rheumatoid arthritis. Or people with hypothyroidism commonly also have osteoarthritis.
Hypothyroidism is known to slow metabolism, resulting in fluid buildup around the joints, causing swelling and pain. For some, joint pain will subside when thyroid treatment begins, and functioning improves. For others, it may take longer. There are at least seven ways to help reduce Hashimoto’s joint pain, like the ones below.
1. Find The Right Doctor
The most crucial step is finding the right doctor to help you with Hashimoto’s joint pain. The best doctor to deal with this disease is an infectious disease specialist. The reason is that they can ensure your diagnosis is correct. Sometimes conditions with the same symptoms are mistaken for one another, leaving you with an incorrect diagnosis and treatment that doesn’t work.
Specialists also have advanced equipment and testing methods and numerous treatment options, not just the standard prescription medication offered by general practitioners. When beneficial, they can create a pain treatment plan consisting of medications and alternative therapies.
2. Keep Moving
Joint pain hurts. Swelling, intense heat, tightened skin, and stiffness makes engaging in physical activity difficult. Rather than stop movement altogether, work the joints in light, easy activities. Focus on strengthening the muscles around the joint, which can provide extra protection. You can practice yoga poses, water aerobics, walking, or light weights.
3. Reduce Stress
When you are stressed, the body releases too many hormones, like Cortisol, to try and combat the stress. Results usually involve inflammation that worsens symptoms of Hashimoto’s disease, especially joint pain. Try any of the following for relaxation:
- Breathing exercises
- Spend time in nature
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy with a counselor
- Hot baths
These aren’t the only options, just a few to get you started. Keep trying different activities until you find the one that works for you consistently.
4. Diet and Nutrition
Joint pain can worsen if your body lacks the necessary vitamins and minerals. You must find ways to replace lost nutrients. Working with a specialist, you can create a diet plan for your body’s needs. It may include eliminating some foods, like processed foods containing large amounts of sugar, salt, and carbohydrates.
You may also opt for taking vitamin supplements. A specialist can test your vitamin and mineral levels to determine which supplements are needed. A healthy diet can help you maintain the best weight for your body. Carrying extra weight stresses the joints and adds to the pain of Hashimoto’s disease.
5. Build Up the Immune System
You can’t eat enough fruit daily to get the recommended dose. Taking supplements can help. However, there are other ways. One is with IV therapies, including Vitamin C IV megadose, low-dose immunotherapy, antioxidant therapy, and oxidative stress treatments. Take probiotics to improve gut health. Practice good hygiene by washing your hands throughout the day.
6. Get Quality Sleep
During sleep, your brain works to restore your body to good health. When you don’t get good sleep, ailments continue. Also, you may face other issues that lead to joint problems, such as
- Weakened immunity
- Accidents and injuries
- Nervous system misinterprets pain
- Increased odds of autoimmune disorders
- Increased stress hormone release
Getting quality sleep gives you an advantage over joint pain.
7. Stop Drinking Alcohol or Using Drugs
Nicotine activates neutrophils that cause inflammation throughout the body. Alcohol and drugs affect the body directly and indirectly, contributing to joint pain. Alcohol causes weight gain, interferes with restorative sleep, increases acid levels, and interacts with medications you may be taking for joint pain. Alcohol and drugs also change brain functioning, specifically how neurotransmitters communicate, affecting mental health. Some mental health disorders, like depression, can produce aches, pains, and soreness in joints and muscles.
Further, taking substances like opioids for an extended period can have a reverse effect on pain. Initially, opioids make you feel better by triggering a release of “feel-good” chemicals in the brain, like dopamine. Over time, opioid tolerance grows and loses effectiveness. Eventually, you may experience opioid-induced hyperalgesia when the drugs make you more sensitive to pain stimuli.
When to Seek a Specialist
If you are like many people who have busy lifestyles, you have put off seeing someone about the joint pain you feel. Even those diagnosed with Hashimoto’s disease may not connect it to their joint pain. Unfortunately, it is normal to wait to see a specialist after the pain has become a significant problem.
If you are wondering whether you should seek a specialist’s advice, the answer is yes. If you are thinking about it, it’s time. Other ways to know it’s time to see a specialist include the following:
- Your family practitioner has tried multiple treatments without success
- Your family practitioner is not giving you the attention you deserve
- You feel you have been misdiagnosed with another disease that causes joint pain
- Joint pain is interfering with how you function daily
- You have developed new symptoms, like nodules or lumps on lymph nodes
Widen your search for a specialist outside your area and the United States or Canada. It is better to see a specialist in Mexico and receive successful treatment than to continue seeing multiple doctors who do not have the answers you deserve.