The central role of the thyroid in RA

The dysfunction of the thyroid gland plays a central role in AI diseases. The dysfunction is often hidden and miss diagnosed but very important for us patients to understand. Here a short article that explains the fundamentals, lots more to google and do research on.

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  • Hand in hand with thyroid dysfunction, especially hypothyroidism, there is a deficiency of vit. D3. There has been a lot of discussion on the forum about vit.D and thyroid symptoms. Here something that may help to understand their interconnection in RA.

  • I've had Vit D defieciency last year and now this year. I'm someone Who likes being outdoors.

    I've had an underactive thyroid since 1996.

    When I mentioned last year after treatment with Vit D 3 for 2 months. The answer I received was most people are Vit d deficient. So didn't think any more about it as my level following treatment was within normal range.

    I'm currently on treatment again and need to have another blood test when treatment is completed.

  • Very interesting read, especially the adrenal/stress/inflammation conection.

  • Yes isn't it! For me at least I feel I have a better grip of my condition when I understand better the interconnections and how my symptoms reflects certain deficiencies. Also helps to have a more educated discussion with your doc.

  • To me personally too. I was living a healthy life style and then I suffered a traumatic event. I then developed MS. 30 years later I went through another traumatic event and I soon developed this RA. I always felt there was a connection, but who knows? Maybe thyroid/adrenal connection?

  • Interestingly I suffered from hyperthyroidism about five years ago. I was diagnosed with Graves and put on carbimazol. I was OK for a while and taken off meds. Then a year later I was hyperthyroid again and put back on meds.

    According to docs my thyroid is fine. I don't feel it is. It feels like I've swung the other way.

    I got inflammatory arthritis about four years after that.

  • Yes I have understood that hypothyroidism and ra are often seen together and in fact, goes undetected in 80% of Ra patients. Hyperthyroidism and Ms have a connection. Must read more about this!

  • I'm going to read up on hyperthyroid & MS. Thanks for this information.

  • I've had Hashimoto's (which is the antibody-related thyroid disease) for 30 years before the RA came. As with all things Auto Immune related, those dammed little critters destroy, and move on. But my GP told me it's normally the pancreas they attack next. Mine is fine no sign whatsoever of Diabetes type 1 or 2.

    I had no stress or trauma and I believe its simply genetic.

    I'm positive RA and was treated early, so in remission and one good point having to take thyroxine for life at least means free prescriptions.!

  • There seems to be a lot of discussion about thyroid disease which isn't picked up by the routine tests. I am a bit suspicious that this may be creating "illness" to explain the normal variations of our bodily state.

    I can't find any recent work in Pub-Med (I only looked back to 2014) which would suggest that these suspicions are being tested out by reputable trials.

  • Hello oldtimer,

    The connection between ra and thyroid dysfunction is I believe already a well established fact with an abundance of scientific research. Here is just one link but research can easily be found on the net.

  • This article from 1993 uses conventional testing and established that thyroid dysfunction is more common in people with RD. I think it is now accepted that different auto-immune conditions frequently occur in the same person.

    What I was doubting was the premise on the website to which you gave a link, that thyroid disease is present when conventional testing does not show it.

  • Yes you are right. I will look up better links for you. Here one overview with links. Also the link below about hypothyroidism connection to pred may interest you.😊

  • Here is something more recent about the difficulty and the importance of diagnosing thyroid dysfunction in RA.

  • Here a bit more reading on the subject of diagnosing thyroid disorders.

  • A very good rheumy once told me that thyroid function fluctuates in people with inflammatory arthritis. When I first started hassling my GP for a rheumatology referral, blood tests showed an under-active thyroid.

    Somehow I never thought there was anything much wrong with my thyroid gland but of course the test results sent the GP up a blind alley and caused a delay in diagnosis of PsA as is so often the case. As soon as I started on treatment my thyroid was almost the first thing to respond i.e. although I was still barely able to walk the thyroid levels quickly returned to normal.

    Incidentally, I could consult Dr Google, but does anyone know whether low thyroid levels are always associated with weight gain? When mine were low I was thin as a rake and although my weight's normal now, I still lose weight much more easily than I did before PsA. I'm kind of a different shape too, it's almost as if my weight distribution pattern has changed. I might feel like death warmed up some days but for the first time in my life I have a waist.

  • You are very fortunate. When my underactive thyroid was found it was put down to having just had flu and no medication given initially. I had always been slim but put on 4 stone in as many months!! I was then given meds. Never been able to shift the extra weight, however hard I try.

  • An important fact to keep in mind when on RA meds is that they in fact can cause hypothyroidism or make it worse. Here about the effect of thyroids.


  • Sorry I meant the effect of steroids on thyroid function😊

  • Hi postle2,

    I am like you hypothyroidism and low body weight. Not unusual. If you want to study more a good site

  • Thank you & thanks for the link.

    I don't have low body weight, just not overweight and burn weight off so quickly. And actually was too thin when I allegedly had low thyroid function. It seems to me that thyroid 'wavering' in those of us who have inflammatory should not necessarily be diagnosed as hypo or hyper thyroidism too readily.

    Not questioning your diagnosis, I realise that autoimmune diseases like company.

  • This reading may interest you.


  • Thank you Simba.

    I think we're coming from different places. I'm all for good food and although without spying on people while they're eating their dinner it's difficult to say, I suspect that really nutritious diets may be the exception rather than the norm in our society. So the food we eat, alongside exercise, is massively important in managing inflammatory arthritis or indeed in helping to prevent any kind of ill health.

    I'm drug averse by nature. Though funnily enough I used to forget that alcohol is a drug while scrupulously avoiding so much as the odd aspirin. But the drugs I take for PsA have worked so well for me, so far. Not everyone's so lucky I know but I tend to think that the only things that can really re-regulate my wonky immune system to any significant degree are the drugs. Backed up by all the 'work' we need to put in too, the swimming, the walking, the varied diet, the determination.

    So yes, we're coming from different places in some ways but agree to a certain extent on some things.

  • I think perhaps you have misunderstood me. My intention is by far not onesidedly advocating diets as a solution to everything, much interesting in my mind is understanding what is happening in our bodies when we have an AI disease and how we can target these dysfunctions. It seems to be evident that thyroid dysfuntion is often central in the disease and worsens the symptoms in many ways. So we need to take care of the dysfunction. Diet plays a role and so does many other things like beeing aware how RA meds effect the normal thyroid function, how it affects our hormonal estrogen-progesterone balance, the function of our adrenal gland and so on. And how important it is to keep all these things in mind when doing a treatment plan, with meds or combining meds and thyroid supporting actions in other ways.

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