Is there a Connection Between Spine Health and Thyroid Function?  

Jake Newby

| 2 min read

Is there a Connection Between Spine Health and Thyroid Function?
Researchers are studying the connection between spinal health and thyroid function to understand if it is reciprocal.
Some have experienced an improvement in their hypothyroidism after undergoing treatment for various spinal issues, but more research is needed. Here's what we know so far.

How spinal cord issues can affect thyroid function

The thyroid is located close to the spinal cord, particularly the lowest cervical vertebra (C7). This could mean if one of these two vital parts of the body are injured or compromised, the other could be adversely affected as well. Your C7 vertebra supports the primary load from the weight of your head and neck – it’s the bony part of your spine you can feel if you reach down and touch the base of your neck.
A misalignment of the C7 could cause a pinching of the nerves and blood vessels that lead to the thyroid gland, which can disrupt its function. Hypothyroidism is typically diagnosed in people who experience an insufficient production of thyroid hormones. It may occur because the pituitary gland or thyroid itself is not functioning properly.

Hypothyroidism and Hashimoto's

Signs of hypothyroidism include fatigue, dry skin, cold intolerance, memory issues and depression. There’s evidence of autoimmune thyroid disease leading to serious spinal issues, too. Hashimoto’s disease is an autoimmune disorder that causes the immune system to attack the thyroid, often leaving it inflamed. This process can also result in hypothyroidism as the condition worsens.
One study among 7,094 patients with Hashimoto’s antibodies discovered a higher frequency of spinal degenerative disc disease among study subjects fighting this autoimmune thyroid disorder. Spinal degenerative disc disease occurs when discs between vertebrae break down and cause pain. This condition is also caused by the standard wear and tear that comes with aging.
A more recent 2016 study, which included almost 8,000 patients, also determined thyroid autoimmunity to form an “important link” to degenerative disc disease. Treatment for spinal cord issues can range from exercise and medication to physical therapy and chiropractic care.
Some Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan insurance plans provide coverage for chiropractic care services, such as chiropractic spinal manipulation and osteopathic manipulative therapy. If you are dealing with thyroid issues that may affect your spine, or vice versa, you should discuss treatment options with your primary care provider and discuss coverage with your health insurance carrier.
Photo credit: Getty Images
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