Hypothyroidism: Can it cause peripheral neuropathy?

content provided by mayoclinic.com

Hypothyroidism: Can it cause peripheral neuropathy?

Question

Can hypothyroidism cause peripheral neuropathy and, if so, how is it treated?

Kathleen
Louisiana

Answer

Hypothyroidism — a condition in which your thyroid gland doesn't produce enough thyroid hormone — is an uncommon cause of peripheral neuropathy, such as carpal tunnel syndrome.

Peripheral neuropathy is damage to your peripheral nerves — the nerves that carry information between your brain and spinal cord and the rest of your body, such as your arms and legs. Peripheral neuropathy may be caused by severe, long-term, untreated hypothyroidism. Although the association between hypothyroidism and peripheral neuropathy isn't fully understood, it's known that hypothyroidism can cause fluid retention resulting in swollen tissues that exert pressure on peripheral nerves.

Signs and symptoms of peripheral neuropathy may include pain, a burning sensation, or numbness and tingling in the area affected by the nerve damage. It may also cause muscle weakness or loss of muscle control.

See your doctor if:

  • You know or suspect you have hypothyroidism and you're having troubling or painful symptoms in your limbs.

Treatment
Treatment of peripheral neuropathy due to hypothyroidism is directed at managing the underlying hypothyroidism and treating the resulting symptoms. This may include:

  • Levothyroxine (Synthroid, Levothroid, others), which often improves the symptoms of neuropathy.
  • Exercising and maintaining a healthy weight, which can help to minimize stress on your body as well as strengthen affected limbs.
Last Updated: 2011-04-14
© 1998-2014 Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (MFMER). All rights reserved. A single copy of these materials may be reprinted for noncommercial personal use only. "Mayo," "Mayo Clinic," "MayoClinic.com," "Mayo Clinic Health Information," "Reliable information for a healthier life" and the triple-shield Mayo logo are trademarks of Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research.

Terms and conditions of use

 

Bookmark and Share   E-Mail Page   Printer Friendly Version