Why is hypothyroidism a key factor behind your knee pain?

Vijeta Rana
Vijeta RanaSeptember 21, 2022

Does the thought of having to take the stairs scare you because of knee pain? Do you experience knee pain even with daily activities? This could be because of thyroid disease!

Many women with hypothyroidism have severe knee pain. Even simply standing continuously for 30 minutes might result in knee pain or swelling.

Sadly, hypothyroidism as the cause behind it usually goes undiagnosed. Checking thyroid hormones and opting for a thyroid treatment is an essential but overlooked step in curing knee pain. Hypothyroidism and knee pain

In this article, let's understand how hypothyroidism and knee pain are related and how to treat them.

Symptoms of knee pain due to thyroid disease:

Symptoms of hypothyroidism don't end with weight gain, dry skin, and constipation. Some people might experience severe joint pain, especially knee pain.

Knee pain due to thyroid could include:

  • Muscle cramping
  • Muscle tenderness
  • Tear of tissues
  • Muscle pain
  • Swelling
  • Inflammation
  • Pricking pain
  • Difficulty in performing certain activities

These symptoms might occur in or around the knees and vary in different individuals. Join Thyroid Community/

Why does your hypothyroidism cause knee pain?

Although the exact reason for joint pain and knee pain with thyroid disease is not known, here are a few possible causes:

Poly autoimmunity:

Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is an autoimmune condition in which your immune system works against your thyroid. But did you know that having Hashimoto’s disease means you’re more likely to get other autoimmune diseases as well? This condition is called poly autoimmunity.

According to a study, this likelihood is as high as 14.3% in people with Hashimoto’s disease. In case you’re wondering what the link is between autoimmune disease and knee pain, the answer is rheumatoid arthritis. The same study found rheumatoid arthritis in 4.24% of people with Hashimoto’s.

Diagnosing such an association early means better treatment and faster resolution of your pain.

Knee Effusion:

The word may sound complicated but the meaning is simple. Knee effusion is nothing but the accumulation of water-like fluid in or around the knee joints.

A study found knee effusion as a common association with hypothyroidism. Knee effusion can cause inflammation, swelling, and stiffness in the knees.

Tissue damage:

We know by now that the thyroid plays an essential role in governing our body functions.

Imagine your thyroid gland as the roots of a tree. The main job of roots is to absorb water and nutrients from the soil for the tree to grow. Similarly, the thyroid gland produces thyroid hormones to govern several body functions related to growth and metabolism.

What happens when the roots aren’t able to do their job? It makes the plant weaker and slows its growth. Likewise, an underactive thyroid can cause muscle damage, muscle pain, and even reduced bone growth.

What does that mean for you? This direct tissue damage may be the cause of the knee pain that is troubling you.

Now that we’ve covered the direct causes, let’s explore some indirect factors too.

Weight gain:

Most people get their thyroid hormones checked only when they experience weight gain and tiredness. A Jeevam health survey found that a shocking 82.1% of people with Hashimoto's showed weight gain as the first symptom.

More body weight equals more pressure on the knees. This added pressure causes tissue damage. This is why when you put on weight you get knee pain even when climbing stairs or standing for long.

Vitamin deficiency:

Did you know that hypothyroidism is associated with lower levels of Vitamin B12 and Vitamin D These vitamins are crucial for muscular and joint health.

So make sure to get in some time in the sun every morning ad have a diet rich in fresh veggies. These practices can boost thyroid function and keep deficiencies at bay.

Tips for managing thyroid knee pain temporarily at home:

  1. Use knee bands to support your knees in strenuous activities.

  2. If you are having sudden pain or burning, apply some ice cubes wrapped in a towel for a maximum of 15 minutes. This helps reduce inflammation and pain.

  3. In case of muscle stiffness, opt for hot water bags. Heat pads aid in relaxing the muscles and increasing blood circulation. Again stop it after 15 minutes. A warm, relaxing bath will help as well.

  4. Try low-impact aerobic exercises such as swimming and walking for at least 30 minutes every day. Invest in a pair of good walking shoes.

  5. Maintain a healthy weight and eat nutrient-rich foods.

  6. Lastly, turn in those heels and switch to some flat sandals or flexible shoes instead for better support.

Disclaimer: These tips are just for temporary management and don’t guarantee permanent recovery. Consult your doctor to address the root cause of the disease.

Treatment for hypothyroidism and knee pain:

Knee pain is just one symptom of a bigger problem: hypothyroidism. For the treatment of thyroid knee pain, you must aim to cure the root cause behind it. This is what is advised:

Blood tests:

Thyroid function tests including TSH, T4, T3, free T3, and free T4 are the first step.

Reach out to a thyroid specialist with your reports. With further details like your history and symptoms, your doctor will reach a diagnosis.


Each individual is different and so are the doses of the medications. Your doctor might prescribe levothyroxine and other supplements according to your body’s needs.

Also, medications are just one part of the whole treatment. Relying only on medication is not a good idea. Start to work on your diet and exercise to make sure you get the best results.

Diet and lifestyle:

Addressing the underlying cause is crucial in the treatment of any disease. Without that, all you get is temporary relief without knowing how the disease is progressing. This is why Jeevam health focuses on treating the root cause with personalized treatment options in each case.

Your diet, lifestyle, and inactivity all contribute to hypothyroidism in some way. There are posts on our site that go into more depth on the diet, exercise, and lifestyle changes for hypothyroidism.

These articles will guide you better on the journey of how other factors such as exercise, sleep, meditation, and diet altogether can help your hypothyroidism.

Final words:

Hypothyroidism or underactive thyroid results in many symptoms including knee pain. Various factors such as poly autoimmunity, inflammation, weight gain, and vitamin deficiency might contribute to your thyroid knee pain.

To cure your knee pain, a correct diagnosis is the first step. We need to check if your hypothyroidism caused your knee pain or if it is rheumatoid arthritis. Understanding the root cause will help plan for a long-term solution.

If you are suffering from hypothyroidism and knee pain and are looking for a proper treatment that can help you in your healing journey, join Jeevam health now.

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