Thyroid disease comes with many issues attached to it. Since the thyroid is responsible for a good majority of processes in the body, a lot of things are affected when it isn’t functioning correctly. One of the most painful is the muscle pain and fatigue. If you are hyperthyroid, then you get muscle pain and fatigue because your body is running through energy so fast, it’s like having you run a marathon every few minutes. Your muscles feel sore, and achy and sometimes weak. Too much thyroid hormone can also start to break down muscle tissue as well. Then when you go hypothyroid, your muscles are tired again, and you are fatigued, due to not enough thyroid hormone giving you the energy you need to move. Either way, it prevents you from moving like you would like to be able, and sometimes results in a lot of pain. Pain that prevents people from being able to work or function fully not infrequently.
First step if you are having a lot of muscle pain, is to work with your doctor to get your thyroid levels to optimal levels. Keeping a journal and noting what your last labs were, plus medicines you are on and how you feel at the time of blood draw can help you pinpoint where you feel better and where you feel worse. If you have a good doctor who will work with you, you can work to tweak your dose to where you are feeling better.
If your muscle aches and pains are not caused by injury, but by thyroid levels, there are some things you can do to help yourself feel better. The first one is moving more. (talk to your doctor and find out what is safe for YOU to do first) Exercise is a good thing, but you have to be careful and find exercises that will strengthen you and not harm you.
When I was having really bad fatigue and muscle aches, I started out with low impact aerobics, only 4-5 minutes a day. After a week, I went up to 7 minutes, and paid attention to how I felt. If I felt worse after this, I would drop back down to previous level. Each week if I was able to handle it, I would go up a couple of minutes. It’s slow and feels pointless, but I made it up to 30 minutes 5 times a week eventually, and my muscles started to feel better and less fatigued.
Then I added in some basic yoga twice a week to the routine, maybe 5 minutes at a time of stretches. Basic stretches where I once again started off with slowest and easiest moves and slowly worked my way up to more difficult ones. Once I got up to being able to handle that, then I added in some light basic weights and exercises that strengthened my legs and lower back. They key is to find an exercise you like, that’s not high impact, and be able to ease into it, listening to your body the entire time. If your body is hurting, STOP. A small amount of aching in the muscles is ok, sharp pains or something that does not go away after a few hours or a day is not. Take a break and do less the next day or the day after. It’s not a race. Just moving sometimes will help me ease some of the aches and stiffness in my muscles and joints. On a really bad day, I will just do some basic stretches and basic yoga poses to help ease the kinks out of my muscles.
Next thing that will help ease some of the pain is getting proper rest. Do you have sleep issues? Do you snore, or have daytime tiredness that could signal sleep apnea on top of thyroid issues? It is quite common to develop sleep apnea along with thyroid issues. Get a sleep study done if you suspect that might be the cause. Otherwise make sure you are following good sleep hygiene rules:
- Avoid caffeine and stimulants past 2pm at least and altogether if you can. Caffeine and other stimulants can last in your body for hours after and upset your ability to sleep. Also avoid alcohol, it may seem to make you sleepy, but you will be wide awake not long after you fall asleep with it.
- Turn your bedroom into a sleep haven. Dark curtains blocking out light. No electronic devices in your bedroom near you. Slightly cool environment temperature. Comfortable mattress and pillows. Try to keep all distractions outside of your bedroom when you are sleeping, pets outside of the room, as their movements can interrupt your sleep even when you don’t realize it.
- Have a soothing bed time routine. Take a bath every night, or read a calming book, meditate on the day, write out a list of things to be done the next day and then let those thoughts go.
- Go to sleep when you are really tired. If you are laying in bed still awake after 20 minutes, get out of bed. Go sit in a quiet room and do something quiet such as reading or listening to soft music until you are sleepy again.
- Watch your lights. The light from the television actually signals your brain to wake up, so do not watch television when you are trying to go to sleep. Also, when you get up in the morning, make sure you let in some sunlight if available that day to wake yourself up.
- Do not eat or drink within 2 hours of going to bed, and make sure you eat lighter at dinner if you can than at lunch time. This will ensure you are not still digesting when your body is needing to rest and relax.
- Establish a routine. Get up the same time every day, including weekends. Try not to nap unless you absolutely have to.
Next get your vitamins and minerals checked. Make sure your magnesium, calcium, vitamin D and potassium levels are adequate. Deficiencies in any of these can make muscle pain and fatigue much worse. When your thyroid levels are too low or too high, your body might also be using much more of these as well. If lab tests come back deficient, a simple supplement might be all it takes to ease your muscle pain and help with your fatigue. There are many supplements out there that can help also. Many people are able to take turmeric as a supplement also for joint and muscle pain. After checking with doctor and pharmacist to make sure it’s okay to take, some have found this eases inflammation in the joints and muscles and thus eases the fatigue.
So, get your thyroid levels to optimal levels. Then start an exercise program taking into account what is safe for you, easing into it for safety. Get your sleep hygiene straight, and then have your vitamins and minerals checked. Hopefully one or all of these will help you find some relief from your thyroid related muscle pain and fatigue.