Hypoparathyroidism is a condition where the function of the parathyroid glands is decreased due to the underproduction of parathyroid hormone. This can cause hypocalcemia or low levels of calcium in the blood. Hypoparathyroidism can be an inherited condition but can also be seen after parathyroid or thyroid gland surgery. Other causes include immune system related damage, hemochromatosis, and other rare syndromes. The diagnosis of hypoparathyroidism can be made via blood tests. Genetic testing may be involved in some cases. The treatment for hypoparathyroidism can be difficult as there is no exact form of hormone available that can be used as a replacement. However, a similar peptide to the hormone known as teriparatide can be given by injection. Vitamin D and calcium replacement can help with symptoms of the disease but also increases the risk of chronic kidney disease and kidney stones.
There are usually four parathyroid glands that function to sense the level of calcium in the blood. The parathyroid gland then secretes the parathyroid hormone which requires magnesium. The parathyroid hormone is secreted to help maintain normal levels of calcium in the blood as it is required for normal nerve and muscle function. The parathyroid hormone increases calcium levels by absorbing calcium in the bowel, increasing phosphate release while preventing calcium excretion in the kidneys, and increasing calcium through bone resorption. In severe hypocalcemia, calcium gluconate is used for treatment.
Hypoparathyroidism Symptom #1: Muscle Cramps
A muscle cramp occurs when there is involuntary and sudden muscle contraction. It is usually temporary but can cause a paralysis-like immobility and significant pain in the affected muscle. Muscle cramps can last several seconds, minutes, or even hours. It can occur in a smooth muscle or skeletal muscle.
In a skeletal muscle, it may be due to muscle fatigue or electrolyte imbalances such as low potassium, low magnesium, or low sodium. Smooth muscle cramps can occur in gastroenteritis or menstruation. In hypoparathyroidism, muscle cramps can occur due to the low levels of calcium in the blood.