Is there a link between levothyroxine and rheumatoid arthritis?

How many have developed Rheumatoid arthritis after being treated for hypothyroidism? I know hashimotos and RA are both autoimmune diseases; both of which have destroyed my body over last 2 years! However I'm noticing amongst fellow sufferers that many seem inclined towards RA after being treated for hypothyroidism with levothyroxine! A friend who had his cancerous thyroid removed privately was told (by private specialist, NHS seem to deny link) that its much more beneficial to have thyroidectomy and have a lower dose of levo as the high dose needed with a malfunctioning thyroid can cause Rheumatoid arthritis!

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19 Replies

  • This is news to me - however I am aware that if you have one auto-immune condition you may well acquire another. I have two. Perhaps he is thinking along the lines that if you have your thyroid removed - the anti-bodies remain. I am confused by the Docs comment.

    Am sure someone who knows more than me will soon be along.

  • I have two relatives with R.A. neither had a thyroid gland dysfunction before it. I have hypothyroidism and haven't, as yet, developed R.A.

    Marz is right, when we have one autoimmune condition we are likely to get more. I, at present, have 3.

  • Thank you both for your input. Hate these diseases. Maybe I'm just hoping to find reason behind my suffering :)

  • Am sure I am preaching to the converted - but I understand that healing the gut is the way forward with auto-immune issues. It seems everything starts there. Have you considered going gluten free and taking out the Nightshades from your diet ?

    I have Hashimotos and Crohns so am aware that other AID's may be lurking and the importance of gut health.

    How are your thyroid levels ? - and of course B12 - Ferritin - Folate - Iron - VitD. All need to high in their ranges and Ferritin around 80. VitD is anti-inflammatory and is needed in every cell of the body - all 10 trillion - also a steroidal pre-hormone. Good levels are so I am sure it could be helpful.

  • I'm interested in looking into this! I have had stomach problems all my life and am genetically predisposed to getting bowel cancer. I already take supplements of vit d, vit b, calcium and folic acid. I am terrible for carbs inmy diet. Maybe its time for a change. Thank you :)

  • Sorry to be a pain - how much VitD do you take ? Is it a B Complex you take - if so there will not be enough B12 in there and if you increase the dose you may overdose on something else !

    Are you able to post your thyroid levels with ranges ? Also the results of the Vitamins and Minerals. It's possible your have LOW T3 and the gut has the second highest amount of receptors for T3 after the brain. There is also a brain/gut connection....

    There is a great deal on the net about going gluten free and for many people it can make a difference. Inflammation is the cause of many illnesses - and by that they mean inflammation in the gut. Gluten molecules adhere to the gut wall and cause inflammation - then a minute fistula allows the molecule through. The immune response thinks the gluten is an intruder and creates an anti-body. Gluten molecules can permeate the blood/brain barrier too. Wheat ain't what it used to be - it has been hybridized so much and endless chemicals are sprayed onto it both before and after planting. Our body no longer recognises this thing called wheat... :-(

    if you type Gluten Free into the Search Box on the Green Bar at the Top of the page and then press Enter on your Keyboard - lots of relevant posts ill appear :-)

  • My results for thyroid began at tsh 97 and free t4 0.6. Last results in July were tsh 9.81 and free t4 15.8. That's only results I have. My bloods for methotrexate medication were mid August ESR -39. WCC-121 neutrophils - 8.71 HB - 11.6 Platelets -372 ALT-23 Alk phos-62 Albumin -38 creatine-60. I'm due to see rheumy tomorrow as have been off methotrexate since these tests were done due to a constant chest infection that still seems to be going strong after 6 weeks and 3 courses of antibiotics and steroids... God knows what's next!

  • Even without the ranges the TSH is still too high and the FT4 too low...base on the many different ranges we see here.

    So you haven't had the tests done that I mentioned earlier. As you have an infection it may be due to low VitD so do ask for it to be tested along with the other 4 I mentioned ealier.....

  • Thanks I'll ask tomorrow :)

  • i developed ra after being diagnosed with hypo but i was told that ra i was told it takes something to trigger it like another illness or bad stress...mine came on when i had a breakdown..i had rapid onset ra..woke up and couldnt open my fingers they were stuck in fists..over next couple of weeks every joint went..10yrs down the line and its still not under control x

  • I'm exactly the same! Within weeks of Christmas I went from having a swollen ankle that was assumed as repetitive strain to almost every joint affected by ra. Can no longer manage stairs,slopes, pretty much destroyed my hands,knees,ankles and hips. My shoulder is relatively new, since being diagnosed. All that's left working is my elbows!

  • it is such a cruel disease although i read they are starting humans trials next year on a cure for ra..fingers crossed...i have no life these days x

  • I have RD,Fibro, osteo and have just been told I have Sjorgens. I havent been diagnosed with hypothyroid but my last bloods were TSH 5.37 range 0.03-5.0 and I have all the symptoms of hypo fatigue, weight gain, pains to name a few of which I suppose are the same for most of what I have but I am convinced I am hypo but cant get NHS to listen.

  • Bless you good luck I hope they listen soon. We know our bodies and when chronically ill we soon become 'expert patients' if only doctors could respect that maybe we have enough intelligence to learn as well as them

  • Any chance of having the FT4 and the FT3 tested as the TSH is not a Thyroid hormone.

  • Hi Marz My GP and Rheumy refuse to do T3 and T4 but from what GP said this is down to the Labs and I havent the money to get them done privately as I have just lost my job. I have already changed my GP as my previous GP wasnt listening to me with regard my pains and fatigue and was telling me it was all in my head. The GP I changed to has at least referred me to rheumy, sleep clinic and pain clinic so he has helped me more than the last one. Just get fed up with banging my head on the wall.

  • Sadly ignoring the thyroid creates other illnesses and adds to the NHS bill - but somehow they are unable to see this. Your TSH clearly says you are HYPO.

    Sjorgens is auto-immune I believe - so it is more than likely you have thyroid anti-bodies too causing Hashimotos - auto-immune thyroiditis. Auto-immune conditions hunt in packs :-) I have Crohns and Hashimotos. So it is VERY important to have your thyroid anti-bodies tested - Anti-TPO and Anti-Tg....and to have treatment. This Doc may be sending you to many Clinics but is not getting to the root cause....

    This could explain your other conditions . I listened to an on-line talk last evening - The Hashimotos Institute - and it is obvious for us all suffering with auto-immune issues that we have to address diet and maybe a step too far to watch our food and be gluten free but a healthy gut is a healthy body. I had to learn the hard way ( You can read my Profile - the edited version :-)

    You can sign up and it is FREE. I listened to Dr Alex Pasquez. His protocol refers to ALL auto-immune conditions.

    As he says treatment often confirms the diagnosis :-)

    I am sorry you have lost your job - that is very sad. I do hope you soon feel stronger...sometimes it is the smallest things that can make a difference.

  • Had bloods done this afternoon. I don't think they test for t3 which seems ridiculous to me!? But my rheumy assures me my vit levels were tested a few months ago and all were normal. Will wait for results probably tomorrow as no doubt something will be amiss still! Been put back on methotrexate injections today for rheumatoid disease x

  • It is documented on eHealthMe on the internet that there is a definite link especially if you have been on Levothyroxine for 2-5 years and women over 60 are more likely to have RA through this.Alas it does not tell you an alternative treatment.

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