We occasionally get a call or email from a patient who is 2-3 months out from successful parathyroid surgery and they are concerned that their joints are still hurting.
Parathyroid tumors cause calcium to be removed from the bones. This causes osteoporosis (sometimes severe) and can cause bone pain. The bone pain is caused by exposure of nerve endings within the inside of the bone as the calcium is dissolved away by the excess parathyroid hormone.
Joints are cartilage, not bone
Joints on the other hand, are comprised of a cartilage surface of the bones. The cartilage is not affected by PTH hormone, so hyperparathyroidism is usually not associated with joint pain. More specifically, hip pain can be both bone and cartilage, so it can get better. Knee pain, however, is usually not caused by parathyroid problems or made better by parathyroid surgery.
Parathyroid related bone pain goes away quickly
Bone pain from parathyroid disease is usually an achy pain in the hips, backs, legs. arms and wrists. It usually does not affect the hands, fingers, knees, or ankles. Most commonly it is a dull achy pain in the back and hips, and this usually is gone within 30-60 minutes of the operation. This is often dramatic! Occasionally bone pain takes a few months to get better, due to the healing of the bone.
Joint pain is usually not caused by hyperparathyroidism so if there is any improvement it occurs much slower and can take a few months. If the joint pain is still present after 2 months, then it is a cartilage problem and not related to parathyroid problems. So it likely won’t be getting any better.