Correlation of thyroid disease and degenerative disc disease

Updated November 21, 2016

Thyroid disease can cause problems with the entire body. One area of the body that is not generally considered when discussing thyroid disease is the back. Degenerative disc disease that is caused by the ageing process can be enhanced by thyroid disease, which causes the body functions to slow down and thus makes any problem involving pain worse.


Hypothyroidism is the medical term for an underactive thyroid. An underactive thyroid is one that is not producing enough thyroid hormone. That failure to produce enough hormones can cause numerous problems. According to, one such problem is joint pain, muscle aches and other problems associated with pain in the shoulders and hips. Degenerative disc disease also causes pain, and an inactive thyroid can possibly be making the pain worse.


The thyroid gland regulates numerous bodily functions. Thyroid disease can cause the thyroid to be underactive. That means that the parts of the body that rely upon the thyroid suffer. One such area is the muscles and joints of the body. In degenerative disc disease, the discs of the back over time start to wear out as a matter of course, as noted in Spine-Health. That process can cause pain in the joints and lower back. As stated in, the same symptoms can come from an underactive thyroid.


The effects of degenerative disc disease and thyroid disease could be the same. Both could produce the same type of pain in the back and shoulders. As stated in Spine-Health, not all degenerative disc disease causes pain. In some people as they age, the discs degenerate but there is no pain.


The American Thyroid Association points out that hypothyroidism can be detected by a simple blood test and can be treated with thyroid replacement hormones, which completely cure the problem. Because thyroid disease can be easily detected and treated, it should be explored as an option before treating degenerative disc disease.


Identifying whether or not thyroid disease has caused the back and shoulder pains is important, because treatment for degenerative disc disease can include surgery. It is important to eliminate any other potential cause of the pain before resorting to more serious remedies.

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About the Author

Robert Alley has been a freelance writer since 2008. He has covered a variety of subjects, including science and sports, for various websites. He has a Bachelor of Arts in economics from North Carolina State University and a Juris Doctor from the University of South Carolina.