Thyroid disorder and osteoporosis may seem like two completely unrelated conditions. After all, thyroid disorders 一 such as hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism 一 pertain to a butterfly-shaped gland in your neck, while osteoporosis is a condition marked by brittle and weak bones.
Surprisingly, the two conditions share a connection: Thyroid disorders may contribute to osteoporosis.
Below, our team at Excel Diagnostics & Nuclear Oncology Center dives into this connection and explains how thyroid disorders affect your bone health and how a DEXA bone scan can help assess your current bone density.
A quick thyroid review
Your thyroid gland produces several types of thyroid hormones, but before your thyroid gland produces these hormones, your pituitary gland must first release thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), a hormone that triggers your thyroid gland to produce thyroid hormones. The two main hormones are called T3 (triiodothyronine ) and T4 (thyroxine).
Your thyroid hormones affect many different processes and functions in your body. Thyroid hormones help regulate your:
- Internal body temperature
- Skin, hair, and nail growth
If your thyroid is overactive, it’s referred to as hyperthyroidism, and if your gland is underactive, it’s referred to as hypothyroidism.
A quick osteoporosis review
Osteoporosis is also referred to as “porous bones.” Your bones normally renew themselves, but if the normal process of cellular turnover is disrupted, you may develop weak bones. Osteoporosis is a leading cause of fractures, and unfortunately, fractures from osteoporosis don’t even require a high impact. If you have osteoporosis, it’s possible to break a bone by coughing or even bending down to tie your shoes.
What is the link between thyroid disease and osteoporosis?
Let’s take a closer look at how two types of thyroid disorders affect your bone health.
Thyroid hormones (specifically thyroxine) also help regulate the rate that your body replaces bone cells. Just like other cells in your body, your bone cells die and are replaced by new ones. If you have hyperthyroidism, your thyroid produces too much thyroxine.
Too much thyroxine speeds up the rate that your bone is lost, and if new bone isn’t formed at the right speed, you may be losing more bone cells than you’re replacing. This can lead to weak and brittle bones.
Hypothyroidism doesn’t cause your thyroid to make too much thyroxine. In fact, your gland doesn’t make enough. However, if you have hypothyroidism and take too much replacement thyroxine, you may also increase your risk of osteoporosis. For this reason, your levels should be carefully monitored.
How to assess your bone health
Dr. Ebrahim Delpassand may recommend a dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) scan if you have a thyroid disorder. DEXA is a diagnostic imaging test that uses low levels of X-ray technology to measure your bone density. The innovative technology not only produces images but also graphs that help depict the state of your bone health.
The results of your bone scan can help determine if you have osteoporosis, and if so, the severity of it. Treating osteoporosis can help reduce your risk of fractures.
If you have a thyroid disorder and are concerned about your bone health, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We offer DEXA bone scans here in our Houston, Texas, office. Call us directly at 713-300-4886 or schedule an appointment online.