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#1 Jan. 2, 2020 09:45:55

Registered: 2020-01-02
Posts: 1

Methimazole side effect - terrible joint pain

I was diagnosed with Graves right before Thanksgiving and put on a (apparently) relatively low dose (15mg/day in 3 separate doses). Just before Christmas, my right hand, wrist, and several fingers became very painful and swollen. I went to the ER, which told me I had a contusion and to take some Motrin.

The swelling and pain then moved to BOTH hands and wrists. I couldn't do anything - cook for the family, take care of my animals. I almost couldn't even dress myself. I tried to call my endo, asking if this could be a side effect of the methimazole on the day after Christmas, but heard nothing.

The next day, the pain was excruciating and was moving into my elbow as well. I went to my PCP, who ran a battery of blood tests to determine whether this was a new auto-immune issue like RA or Psoriatic Arth. He also tried to call my endo, but nothing. My PCP suggested this could be a reaction to the methimazole.

All blood work came back negative for drug-induced lupus and RA factors. My endo FINALLY called me 6 days after my first call and was dismissive of my pain, but told me to stop the methimazole. He did say that my blood work from just before Christmas was “good”, but he doesn't say what the results were.

2 days after stopping, I'm pain-free.

A few lessons from this:

1 - I need a new endo, and have an appointment with a large University clinic physician in February.

2 - Not all endos realize intense joint pain can be a side effect of the methimazole.

I'm posting this so that its out there in the universe, and looking for any similar stories. For now, my next endo appointment will be in February, with a new doctor and I'll stop the methimazole entirely until then.


#2 Jan. 2, 2020 12:56:15

Online Facilitator
Registered: 2008-10-14
Posts: 4144

Methimazole side effect - terrible joint pain

Hello and welcome - hopefully, others will chime in here with their experiences, but joint pain and swelling can be potential side effects of methimazole. That's good that you have your doctor in the loop and are ruling out potential other causes. Hopefully, you will also have a followup discussion about going back on the methimazole or pursuing other treatment options (RAI, surgery) to make sure that your thyroid levels stay under control.

GDATF Forum Facilitator

…through nature's inflexible grace, I'm learning to live…
– Dream Theater


#3 Jan. 3, 2020 06:08:24

Registered: 2014-02-25
Posts: 288

Methimazole side effect - terrible joint pain

This journal article describes myalgia, arthritis, etc as “minor” adverse effects of methimazole. I am pretty sure people having these side effects are not considering them to be minor!
As a suggestion, you might schedule an appointment at the University you mentioned with an ENT surgeon who does a lot of thyroidectomies. I gave up on methimazole after six months and have never regretted having a total thyroidectomy.


#4 yesterday 19:11:27

Registered: 2015-01-28
Posts: 2

Methimazole side effect - terrible joint pain

Hi hmrichards100,
I had severe joint pain in my hands and knees when I was on methimazole after my first relapse. I remember that I had to wear elastic knee support sleeves on both my knees to lessen the pain. My GP ordered some blood tests and everything was normal.
This happened in 2014 so I don't remember if I mentioned anything to my endo. I really didn't want RAI or have surgery, so I pushed through the pain, occasionally taking some over the counter pain medication. The pain did gradually decrease as my methimazole dose was gradually lowered over the course of a few months.

In 2018, I had my second relapse and agreed to have the RAI. However, because my T3 and T4 levels were too high, I had to take methimazole for 3 months before I could have the treatment. About a month after I had the RAI,
I went back on methimazole for about 6 weeks because my thyroid dumped its hormones all at once. I actually went hypo while I was still on the methimazole.
All this to say that you might need to take it for a short time.


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