Hypoparathyroidism is a rare condition where the parathyroid glands, which are in the neck near the thyroid gland, produce too little parathyroid hormone.
This makes blood calcium levels fall (hypocalcaemia) and blood phosphorus levels rise (hyperphosphataemia), which can cause a wide range of symptoms, including muscle cramps, pain and twitching.
Treatment for hypoparathyroidism involves taking supplements, usually for life, to restore calcium and phosphorus levels.
The symptoms of hypoparathyroidism can include:
Hypoparathyroidism is diagnosed after a blood test has shown:
Treatment for hypoparathyroidism aims to relieve your symptoms and bring the levels of calcium and other minerals in your blood back to normal.
The normal calcium range is around 2.2 to 2.6 millimoles per litre (mmol/L). You'll be advised to keep your calcium levels in a slightly lower range – for example, 1.8 to 2.25mmol/L. Your recommended range will depend on your circumstances.
Calcium carbonate and vitamin D supplements – usually calcitriol (Rocaltrol) or alfacalcidol (One-Alpha) – can be taken to restore your blood calcium to these levels. They usually have to be taken for life.
You'll also need to have regular blood tests to monitor your parathyroid hormone, calcium and phosphorus levels.
If your blood calcium levels fall to a dangerously low level or you keep having muscle spasms, you may need to be given calcium through a drip directly into your vein.
It's also recommended that you follow a high-calcium, low-phosphorus diet.
Good sources of calcium include:
Phosphorus is found in:
The most common cause of hypoparathyroidism is removal of or accidental injury to the parathyroid glands during surgery to the neck.
Other causes include: