Musculoskeletal aspects of hypoadrenalism: just a load of aches and pains?

Clin Rheumatol. 2009 Jun;28(6):631-8. doi: 10.1007/s10067-009-1126-y. Epub 2009 Mar 6.


Musculoskeletal signs and symptoms of hypoadrenalism are less well described in the literature compared to other endocrine disorders such as diabetes mellitus and thyroid disease. This may in part be due to the difficulties associated with making a definitive diagnosis of hypoadrenalism where the general symptoms and signs can be very subtle. Hence, suspecting hypoadrenalism in a patient with mainly musculoskeletal features can be difficult and delayed. To illustrate this point, we present three cases of hypoadrenalism with varying degrees of rheumatological symptoms and signs. This article reviews all the cases of hypoadrenalism in the English, French and Spanish language medical literature, going back to the time of Thomas Addison. All the important clinical and laboratory features have been summarised to help clinicians diagnose and treat this disease.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adrenal Insufficiency / complications
  • Adrenal Insufficiency / diagnosis*
  • Adrenal Insufficiency / physiopathology*
  • Aged
  • Arthralgia / physiopathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Musculoskeletal System / physiopathology*
  • Pain / etiology
  • Pain / physiopathology