Osteoarthritis and Hypothyroidism: What’s The Difference?

Osteoarthritis is a condition associated with the wearing out of the cartilage that is in between joints. Cartilage acts as a natural joint cushion and prevents bones from gliding over each other.

Osteoarthritis and Hypothyroidism: What’s The Difference?

With little or no cartilage, the friction caused as bones glide over each other can be painful and distressing. Osteoarthritis is a condition that develops over a long period of time and sometimes unnoticed.

Risk Factors

The common risk factors with osteoarthritis are body weight and age. Excess weight exerts pressure on body joints thereby wearing down the cartilage that acts as cushion to stop bones from gliding over each other.

With increased age, the repair of worn out cartilage may slow down. The amount of cartilage may be degenerating at a faster rate that the body is able to repair. This is why older people are diagnosed with osteoarthritis than the younger generation.

Other factors also lead to osteoarthritis like heredity, overuse of joints, injuries and poor nutrition.



On the other hand, hypothyroidism is a condition that comes as a result of the body’s inability to produce adequate thyroxin, the hormone produced by the thyroid gland.

The thyroid gland lies right under the neck and it is one of the main glands in the endocrine system. Thyroxin is vital in the body for all cells need for metabolism (the process of converting food nutrients into energy).

See Also: 10 Most Common Symptoms of Thyroid Issues

What causes Hypothyroidism?

  • A person’s thyroid gland can become underactive and unable to produce the body’s required amount of the hormone. The functions of the body will be slowed down because the cells cannot metabolize efficiently.
  • A person who suffers a thyroid injury or an infection leading to the surgical removal of the thyroid gland is at risk of getting Hypothyroidism. A broad spectrum of infections on the thyroid gland may lead to partial or full removal of the gland. It may occur mostly to people who suffer from thyroid cancer. The remaining thyroid in the body after surgery may not be enough to produce enough hormones to run the body’s metabolic processes.
  • One can also suffer autoimmune thyroiditis. This disorder is also called Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. The immune system’s function is to produce antibodies that act as guards against bacteria and viruses that cause diseases. With autoimmune thyroiditis, the body produces antibodies that attack the thyroid gland. It is like the body attacking itself! In such circumstances, the thyroid gland cannot produce enough thyroid hormone and one is deemed at risk of getting hypothyroidism.
  • Another cause though rare is the underactive thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH). The TSH is another gland located in the brain whose work is to stimulate the thyroid gland. A low level of TSH translates to underproduction of the thyroid hormone.
  • People who take less iodine in their diet are also at risk of getting Hypothyroidism. This may vary from country to country depending iodine level taken in the diet.
  • Hypothyroidism may also occur as a side effect to certain medications. Amiodarone and lithium are known to be such medications that act as predisposing factors. This disorder can also be genetically acquired. It is known to run in certain bloodlines.

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Diagnosis of Hypothyroidism

When diagnosing for hypothyroidism, a blood test can give indications of the amount of thyroxine and TSH hormones in the blood. A low level of the thyroid hormone may indicate the presence of hypothyroidism in the patient.


*All individuals are unique. Your results can and will vary.

High levels of TSH indicate that the thyroid gland needs extra stimulation by the TSH to produce enough thyroxin. This may be an indicator of overworked pituitary glands. Such a person is at risk of getting hypothyroidism in days to come.

Treatment of Hypothyroidism

This disorder may not have a cure and one may live with it in his/her entire life. A patient takes Levothyroxine drugs which act to replace the deficient thyroxin each day. Calcium and iron are known to interfere with thyroxine absorption and it is better taken in an empty tummy in the morning before eating anything which may contain calcium or iron.

Hypothyroidism Treatment, Weight Gain and Osteoarthritis

When you suffer from hypothyroidism, the metabolic rate is abnormally low. This means that the quantity of calories that are converted into energy is low too. These excess calories are stored as fat and subsequent weight gain is inevitable.

As the American Thyroid Association suggests, the weight gain in hypothyroidism is very complex and many at times it is not all about excess fat.

There is a massive accumulation of salt and water in the body. The new weight attained may pose as a challenge to the joints in that you can also develop osteoarthritis. When you suffer from hypothyroidism, stopping weight gain or losing the extra is sometimes difficult even with measures like exercise and dieting.

When the Weight Won’t Go, What you need to Know

Dr. Lou Aronne in his book Weigh Less Live Longer mentions about something called Metabolic Set Point (MSP). The body works to maintain a certain body weight just like the way it works to keep the temperature at 98.6.

When you take more calories, your metabolic rate accelerates to burn up the excess calories to maintain the body weight. This is called Metabolic Resistance. When one burns fewer calories than they take as in the case of hypothyroidism, the balance is altered.

The body will struggle to burn more calories but with less success, so a new and higher MSP is attained. Continued intake of calories with the body unable to burn them weakens the metabolic resistance and attaining a lower MSP may become difficult.

This may explain why you may find yourself engaging in all weight loss programs and yet your weight curve is on an increasing trend.

Who is at Risk?

Osteoarthritis and hypothyroidism prevalence cuts across people of all ages, gender, and race depending on the risk factors involved. However, the two disorders have common risk factors. These are age and gender. They are more in women and people who have advanced in age.

Joint problems like osteoarthritis can be prevented by using the best joint supplement for knees. Dig in Omega XL Review which can be considered as an option for joints supplement.


*All individuals are unique. Your results can and will vary.

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Evan Jensen, CPT

Evan Jensen is a renowned American Nutritionist, Diet Expert and health writer. He has a master’s degree in journalism, with more

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