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Musculoskeletal disorders are uncommon in patients with thyroid dysfunction

(November 2003)

The background of the study. Some patients with hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism have symptoms and signs of muscle and joint disorders. In this study, patients with either were systematically examined for several of these disorders.

How the study was done. There were 137 patients (111 women, 26 men; mean age, 46 years) with thyroid disease. Sixty-five patients (48 percent) had hyperthyroidism, 39 (28 percent) had normal thyroid function, and 33 (24 percent) had hypothyroidism. The patients completed a questionnaire that asked about sensory symptoms, muscle weakness, joint mobility, and musculoskeletal pain. They then underwent a detailed examination, with special attention directed to signs of adhesive capsulitis of the shoulder (frozen shoulder), carpal tunnel syndrome, limited hand mobility, hand contracture, and fibromyalgia.

The results of the study. Adhesive capsulitis of the shoulders was the most common musculoskeletal disorder, occurring in 11 percent of all patients. Ten percent had the carpal tunnel syndrome, 9 percent had a hand contracture, 7 percent had fibromyalgia, and 4 percent had limited hand mobility. The only musculoskeletal disorder that was more common in any group of patients with thyroid dysfunction, as compared with the euthyroid group, was the carpal tunnel syndrome; this occurred in 30 percent of the patients with overt hypothyroidism, but in only 8 percent of the euthyroid patients.

The conclusions of the study. The Carpal tunnel syndrome, but not several other muscle and joint disorders, is more common in patients with hypothyroidism than in euthyroid patients. None of these disorders is more common in patients with hyperthyroidism.

The original article. Cakir M, Samanci N, Balci N, Balci MK. Musculoskeletal manifestations in patients with thyroid disease. Clin Endocrinol 2003;59:162-7.

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