Are You at Risk for Rheumatoid Arthritis if You Are Diagnosed with Hashimoto’s?

Rheumatoid Arthritis on man's handsHashimot’s thyroiditis (HT) is an autoimmune disease that can be disabling. Aside from the primary symptoms, persons with HT are also prone to depression and fatigue. Women are more likely to develop HT than men.

Sufferers and their family members are often concerned about medical co-morbidities of HT such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA). The link between HT and RA is one of the features of the disease.

How Do You Know You Have HT?

Blood tests, a CT scan, and physical exam are included in the laboratory examinations you need to undergo when the doctor suspects Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. When tests reveal markers such as increased TPO antibodies that attack the body, the doctor gives a definite diagnosis. CT or ultrasound scan offers supporting evidence of thyroid gland enlargement. These tests also reveal whether there is a risk for windpipe compression in the presence of gland enlargement.

Increased Risk for RA

A person diagnosed with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis may require thyroid replacement therapy. Without this intervention, they may develop rheumatic symptoms such as joint stiffness, swelling, and joint pain.

When these symptoms arise, it is necessary to invest time and resources in rheumatoid arthritis management.  In America, 1.5 million people are diagnosed with RA and for some of them, the primary illness is Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. The susceptibility of persons with HT to RA is still under study. The link between the two conditions needs to be identified at the genetic level.

The effectiveness of hypothyroid treatment is one of the main determinants of the quality of life of a person with HT. Early medical management of symptoms improves the quality of life of sufferers. Complications may arise when medical management is inadequate or ineffective.