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Pediatric Joint Disorders and Joint Pain in Children

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Summary

Joint pain can arise as a symptom of hypothyroid (too little thyroid hormone), hyperthyroid (too much thyroid hormone) or diabetes (high blood sugar).

Expanded Overview

Your child’s thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped gland located at the base of the neck, just above the collarbone. It produces hormones that control the body’s metabolism. When this gland under-produces the thyroid hormone or overproduces the hormone, children may experience joint pain.

If your child has diabetes, it means his or her body does not produce or use the hormone insulin effectively. Insulin is responsible for allowing glucose to enter the body’s cells to be used as energy. When this mechanism is damaged, children suffer from high blood sugar. Diabetes causes musculoskeletal changes that lead to symptoms such as joint inflammation, pain and stiffness.

Risk Factors

Being overweight, a risk factor for type 2 diabetes, can also cause joint pain, as extra weight puts stress on the joints.

Symptoms

  • When the thyroid under-produces or overproduces its hormone, children may experience joint pain.
  • Diabetes causes musculoskeletal changes that lead to symptoms such as joint inflammation, pain and stiffness.
  • Being overweight, a risk factor for type 2 diabetes, can also cause joint pain, as extra weight puts stress on the joints.

Tests and Diagnosis

If your child is experiencing joint pain, his or her doctor will:

  • Feel his or her thyroid gland
  • Examine affected joints
  • Order blood screenings to test his/her thyroid hormone and blood sugar levels

Treatment

Treatment of the underlying condition can help improve symptoms. In the case of diabetes, prevention of these problems through good glucose control is the best approach. Diet and exercise can help treat type 2 diabetes, and an insulin regimen is needed to manage type 1 diabetes.

Your child’s doctor may prescribe medication if he or she has an under- or overactive thyroid.

Your child’s thyroid levels and blood glucose will be monitored at follow-up appointments, as well as treatment effectiveness, side effects, and/or new problems.

Resources

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