Neuropathy involves damage to the nerves. In some cases, people with hyperthyroidism may develop neuropathy.
This article explores the link between hyperthyroidism and neuropathy, other common causes of neuropathy, and additional neurological symptoms of hyperthyroidism.
Hyperthyroidism involves an excess, or overproduction of, thyroid hormones. This can lead to symptoms such as:
- rapid heart rate
- difficulty sleeping
- skin thinning
- brittle, fine hair
- hand tremors
- muscle weakness, particularly in the legs
- weight loss
According to 2019 research, the prevalence of neuromuscular disorders such as neuropathy in people with thyroid disorders ranges from 20–60%. The research also indicated that people with hypothyroidism were more likely to develop neuropathy than those with hyperthyroidism.
People with hyperthyroidism were also at an increased risk of developing proximal myopathy (symmetrical muscle weakness in certain limbs). This condition differs from neuropathy in that it primarily affects the muscles instead of the nerves. Both myopathy and neuropathy lead to muscle weakness.
Although hyperthyroidism can lead to neuropathy, according to
Hyperthyroidism may cause a person’s body to go into a hypermetabolic state, when the amount of energy the body uses while at rest increases. This depletes the nerves of important nutrients and may lead to nerve damage and symptoms of neuropathy.
In some cases, a person may have excess thyroid hormones in the peripheral tissues of their body. Peripheral neuropathy may occur as a direct result of those excess hormones.
Certain autoimmune diseases may also lead to hyperthyroidism. For example, Graves’ disease may affect thyroid hormone production and cause hyperthyroidism symptoms. Graves’ disease may also cause neuropathies.
Neuropathy is not the only neurological symptom that can develop due to hyperthyroidism. Thyroid hormones play an important role in different aspects of the nervous system. When hormone levels become too low or too high, it may cause neurological issues.
Mood and cognitive disorders
Tremors of the face, hands, and legs may also occur in people with hyperthyroidism.
Researchers believe that tremors occur due to excess thyroid hormone stimulating the beta-adrenergic system. About 58.2% of children with thyrotoxicosis due to hyperthyroidism developed tremors. (Thyrotoxicosis is when a person has too much thyroid hormone in their body.)
Encephalopathy involves impaired brain function. Research indicates it can occur due to hyperthyroidism from autoimmune thyroid disease. The majority of people with encephalopathy due to autoimmune thyroid disease have Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, and a small number have Graves’ disease.
Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is the cause of hypothyroidism in the vast majority of cases. Encephalopathy due to hyperthyroidism is much less common.
Many other conditions can lead to symptoms of neuropathy.
Although excess thyroid hormones can cause neuropathy, more frequently, hypothyroidism causes peripheral neuropathy. The authors of a
According to the
Surgery side effects
Different types of surgery can temporarily or permanently cause nerve damage. For example, the incidence of nerve palsy (paralysis or weakness), which can lead to neuropathy, after hip replacement ranges from 0.17% to 4%.
Hip surgery also carries a risk of damage to the sciatic nerve or femoral nerve, which can lead to neuropathy.
Diabetes is also a
Learn about diabetic neuropathy here.
Alcohol use disorder
Various types of infection
Additionally, a 2022 study suggests that
Chemotherapy side effects
Various forms of chemotherapy to treat cancer can affect the nerves and cause neuropathy. The risk of neuropathy depends on the specific drugs administered.
People with hyperthyroidism should carefully monitor their condition with the help of a healthcare professional. Thyroid hormones play a crucial role in many body functions. A disturbance in thyroid hormone levels can cause an array of symptoms.
If a person experiences symptoms of neuropathy, they should contact a doctor. Symptoms
- muscle weakness
- muscle numbness or loss of feeling
- muscle tingling
- difficulty with movement
Hyperthyroidism may cause neuropathy due to a number of factors, although researchers do not yet fully understand the link between the conditions.
Other more common causes of neuropathy include injury, diabetes, and hypothyroidism.
A person should talk with a doctor if they think they may have hyperthyroidism or neuropathy. A doctor can provide an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment.