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Can Hypothyroidism Cause Peripheral Neuropathy?

3 years, 1 month ago

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Posted on Jun 01, 2021, 5 p.m.

Hypothyroidism is a condition in which the thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormone, and it is an uncommon cause of peripheral neuropathy according to Todd B. Nippoldt, M.D., at the Mayo Clinic. 

Peripheral neuropathy is damage to the peripheral nerves that carry information to and from the brain, central nervous system, and the rest of the body such as arms and legs. This damage may be caused by severe, long-term, and untreated hypothyroidism, although the association is not fully understood. We do know that hypothyroidism can cause fluid retention that can result in swollen tissues that can exert pressure on peripheral nerves. 

The wrists are one of the more common areas where this damage can occur because the nerve serving the hands goes through a tunnel of soft tissue that can swell, putting pressure on the nerves, resulting in carpal tunnel syndrome. However, the vast majority of carpal tunnel syndrome are not due to hypothyroidism, but this would be the most likely area for this to occur with hypothyroidism. 

Signs and symptoms of peripheral neuropathy may include but are not limited to pain, a burning sensation, muscle weakness, loss of muscle control, or numbness and tingling in the area affected by nerve damage. If you know or suspect that you have hypothyroidism and are having trouble or painful symptoms see your doctor right away to address your concerns. 

Treatment of peripheral neuropathy due to hypothyroidism is aimed at managing the underlying hypothyroidism and treating the resulting symptoms which may include but is not limited to medications such as Levothyroxine that often improves the symptoms of neuropathy; as well as exercise, and maintaining a healthy weight which can help to minimize stress on the body and strengthen the affected limbs. 

As with anything you read on the internet, this article should not be construed as medical advice; please talk to your doctor or primary care provider before making any changes to your wellness routine.

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