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Hypothyroidism: Can it cause peripheral neuropathy?By Mayo Clinic staff
Original Article: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/hypothyroidism/AN01038
- With Mayo Clinic endocrinologist
Todd B. Nippoldt, M.D.read biographyclose window
Todd B. Nippoldt, M.D.Todd Nippoldt, M.D.
Dr. Todd Nippoldt is a board-certified specialist in internal medicine and endocrinology and metabolism. He has special expertise in the area of hormone disorders affecting the pituitary and adrenal glands as well as the testes and ovaries. He has been a member of the Mayo Clinic staff since 1988.
He's a consultant in the Division of Endocrinology, Metabolism and Nutrition and works with patients who have disorders of the hormone-producing glands. Common disorders include diabetes, thyroid problems, osteoporosis and elevated cholesterol levels.
He's also involved in andrology, the study of male hormonal disorders, male infertility and male sexual dysfunction, and is an assistant professor of medicine at College of Medicine, Mayo Clinic.
Dr. Nippoldt, a St. Paul, Minn., native, has also contributed to "Mayo Clinic Health Letter," the "Mayo Clinic Family Health Book" and a Mayo Clinic CD-ROM. He's a fellow in the American College of Physicians and a member of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, the American Society of Andrology, The Endocrine Society, The Pituitary Society and the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists.
"I have found that those patients who have gone to the Internet and obtained accurate medical information come to their appointment with me very well informed, and the discussions regarding the evaluation and management of their condition are very productive and satisfying," he says.
"The key, however, is obtaining accurate medical information. As a medical editor, I hope to be able to ensure that accurate, relevant and up-to-date information is available for patients and their families."
Hypothyroidism: Can it cause peripheral neuropathy?
Can hypothyroidism cause peripheral neuropathy and, if so, how is it treated?
from Todd B. Nippoldt, M.D.
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 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.
- Azhary H, et al. Peripheral neuropathy: Differential diagnosis and management. American Family Physician. 2010;81:887.
- Peripheral neuropathy fact sheet. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/peripheralneuropathy/detail_peripheralneuropathy.htm. Accessed Feb. 23, 2011.
- Huan MC. Laboratory evaluation of peripheral neuropathy. Seminars in Neurology. 2010;30:337.