How Adrenals Affect Muscles, Ligaments & Joints in the Body

by lydia on March 8, 2012

Today, I’d like to take the time to explain just how the adrenal glands can affect your muscles, ligaments and joints. If your adrenals are weak and fatigued you could become susceptible to injury. I personally, have experienced this in my own life a few times. Thankfully, I learned about how to take care of my adrenal glands to prevent further possible injuries to my body.


Have you every heard of an inguinal hernia, or had one? An inguinal hernia is a sign of adrenal fatigue, and I’ll explain why. Do you know what or where your inguinal ligament is?

The inguinal ligament runs from the lateral edge of the Anterior superior iliac spine (ASIS) to the pubic bone. This ligament supports the region around the groin between the abdomen and the thigh, also preventing an inguinal hernia or a protrusion of part of the intestine into the muscle of the groin.

The adrenal glands respond when we are under stress. When over stimulated the glands become exhausted and when adrenal fatigue sets in there are direct consequences to the musculo-skeletal system. For starters, the nerve supply in the adrenals are affected. Nerves are two way streets, they are effected at the spinal level of origin, but also peripherally at their destination.

Carolina Baptism

One of the common lumbar areas affected is at the 3rd lumbar vertebra, and the muscles are affected as well. All muscle innervated by the irritated nerve can contract and trigger points can develop. Muscle-organ correlations were discovered by Dr. Goodhart in the 1960’s. He found that there are predictable muscle imbalances when organs are in stress. In the case of the adrenal glands one of the primary muscles involved is the sartorius, a major pelvic  as well as medial knee stabilizer. (sartorius is the longest muscle in the human body, it runs down the length of the thigh.) This is why so many people including athletes injure their knees when they are under stress. There was a pre-existing imbalance from the adrenals that caused an improper or an inadequate response of the sartorius muscle. So the demand on muscle exceeded its threshold to handle it and this results in an injury. (photo credit)

Another effect from exhausted adrenal’s is ligament weakness. Ligaments hold joints together. When we put a demand on a joint the body responds by getting stronger to resist that demand. When somebody has an adrenal issue, there is an opposite effect. There will be weakening of the joint when the joint is challenged. This is a major reason why people injure themselves when they’re under stress. The direct connection to the low back from stress is that the sartorius imbalance in the front of the thigh has an impact on the sacroiliac joint integrity on the posterior side of the pelvis. So, when the sacroiliac joint is affected either by the sartorius or a weak ligament, there can be pain directly at the joint site. Or the lower lumbar vertebra may be the source of discomfort since standing position may be altered. Further, the gluteus maximus muscle in both the sacroiliac side will be weakened. Muscles that attach to or cross an involved joint will be affected as well. We are all linked together, there is no dissecting one muscle. They all work together to give us stability and mobility. That’s why a muscle that attaches to or crosses an involved joint will be affected as well. The gluteus maximus muscle is a strong lifting muscle, and an anti-gravity muscle. It’s important to strengthen this muscle (that’s why I love my squats!), to help assist the rest of the pelvic area, especially if the adrenals are taxed.

People with weaknesses such as those just described will experience difficulty in getting up from a sitting position. Have you ever seen those people in the grocery store that lean over their shopping carts to support themselves? It’s because they have no stability as a result of adrenal fatigue. Many people with hypo-adrenia (adrenal fatigue) issues often seek chiropractic help for the care of sacroiliac pain and/or low back pain. This is ultimately due to the lack of pelvic stabilization normally provided by these muscles. So chiropractic adjustments can only offer temporary relief unless they are accompanied by nutritional therapy (or a diet that helps to restore the health of the adrenal glands along with supplemental support). This will help to restore balance to the adrenal glands which will then in turn help relax the muscles and the ligaments to stop all these forms of pain. It is imperative to actually heal the adrenals glands, to retain healthy muscles, ligaments and joints.

A Real Life Example

Now to share a little story about what this looks like in real life. This past summer was a seriously stressful one for me coming out of years of stress. I’ve been struggling for many many years in so many ways that I can’t even begin to share here. Let’s just say, I was maxed out and my body was showing it. My friend, who is also a nutritionist, performed a functional exam on me and the first thing she said was, ‘Have you been sleeping?’

It was not pretty and it was not because I wasn’t eating right or trying to take care of myself, it was literally due to life ‘hammering’ me in more ways than one (try being self-employed and raise 4 kids all by yourself for awhile and see what that does to you).

Suffice it to say, my body was not able to fully support the stress I was under. One day, while performing normal daily duties, I literally threw out my back when bending over and could not get back up. It was so bad I was not able to move for awhile and the first day I had to send my kids away and have people come and do everything for me (it took the help of 4 other adults by the way, just to give you an idea of the load I was under). Once I realized why I threw my back out so easily, I set out to focus on my recovery.

Daily whole food vitamin C was one of the key pieces to my healing protocol. I want to share this little story with you so you can recognize if this happens to you. You can read more about Vitamin C for adrenal health here, and how to use vitamin c as therapy (only use short term, it’s best to not use ascorbic acid on a daily basis rather it would be best to use a whole food vitamin C like this one).

I recovered pretty quickly and have not had another ‘incident’ since. People remember when that happened to me and try to not let me lift heavy things because ‘I have a bad back’. That is simply not true, my back is fine. So long as I take care to support my adrenal health daily since I live a very stressful life, and have for so long, I know I’ll be okay. I hope my story is helpful to someone out there that may be experiencing something similar.

Hair analysis is a key way to determine the health of your adrenal glands.

As a nutritional therapist, I feel this test alone is the key place to start with each and every one of my clients. Once we know how well your adrenals are functioning we will have a much better idea of what you are up against and just how long it will take your body to really heal and recover.

If you’ve struggled with ongoing fatigue, lack of energy, recurrent health symptoms, hormone issues or more, this step is for you. Click on the banner below if you’d like to get started today!


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Renee March 8, 2012 at 8:03 pm

Great post :) Looking forward to nutritional advice on this. About 3 months after I had my first I got a stress fracture on my tibia I thought was from starting up running again but I’m really quite sure it was stress and even depletion of minerals in my body from giving birth. I didn’t know any better to not over do it after having a baby…I did better after having my second :)

Michael Head March 14, 2012 at 7:02 pm

Wow that’s me. I really need to know how to get a handle on this, I even vacation over six times a year but with everything I’ve got going on stress is with me daily. Well except on the beach.

angie June 7, 2012 at 12:58 pm

I would love to hear more on the dietary how-to’s…please keep me posted :)

Cindy July 1, 2012 at 4:09 am

I had a kidney stone a few years ago, the dr ordered an ultrasound of my kidneys. The report came back with an abnormality on my adrenal gland. The next time I had a kidney stone flair up another ultrasound showed there was no change to the abnormality on the adrenal gland.

In the last two years I’ve had pain in the bursa on my left hip, I’ve been treated with anti-inflammatory’s, physical therapy, cortisone shots with no help. When I took prednisone for my asthma the pain disappeared for a few weeks after I was done with the course of meds. Within a month after that the pain was back.

Now almost two years after the onset of the bursitis in my left hip, the other joints in my legs hurt, the other hip, and my knees. I’m also having pain in the muscle in my right thigh and left calf. I am under a lot of stress at work and at home. There are also times when I have some mental fogginess.

My dr just ordered some arthritis blood work and is referring me to a rheumatologist. When I take prednisone for three weeks at a dose of 30 mgs for 5 days, 20 mgs for 5 days and then 10 mgs for 5 days I have no pain after just one day on the prednisone.

Are my symptoms of my joint pain and muscle weakness and pain related in any way to the adrenal gland abnormality??

Thanks for any comments or suggestions in advance!

Ivy June 26, 2015 at 10:33 pm

Check your parathyroid.

Cyndee November 29, 2016 at 12:47 am

Sister injured same area in Gentle Yoga’ & spent 18 months in multiple types of PT/massage/injections etc. trigger point helped the most but 2 orthopedist (that couldnt help) both referred her to ortho specialist in Spokane who finally diagnosed torn/crumpled bursa & torn tendon/ligament attachment to bone.

1″ surgery incision, bursa removal, tendon/ligament attatchment repair & she’s finally able to do stairs again.

Helga January 4, 2014 at 4:40 pm

Cindy, you sound like me. I have bursitis in both hip joints and pain in my lower back. I have heard that MSM could help. I am doing PT but have refused the cortisone shots so far. I would love to hear what I could do. I am not under much stress at all though…

judy June 4, 2014 at 2:14 pm

Well… well….at last I understand what is going on with me.For years I have had tingleing in my feed and back, bad knees,stiff sore back and never figured out it could be my adrenal glands, even with all the stress going on in my life. the extra weight around the waist,the water weight in my feet and legs and hands. And when I set for 20 minutes ,I get to my feet like I am 90 years old and it takes me a few minutes to walk normal. Will go to the compounding pharmacy in three weeks to figure out my issues.Wish me luck, God’s peace to all

Jill July 23, 2014 at 10:54 pm

This is me over the last few years. Then a crisis and now I know, Adrenals! Great post! I have not been able to get from squat position in a long time and left lower back hurts so bad at times. Wow wow

Julie May 20, 2015 at 8:32 pm

This article was very interesting. I’ve been reading a lot about adrenal fatigue after a naturopath mentioned it a couple of years ago. I’ve had various aches and pains, injuries from starting a running regimen, and increased muscle pain/weakness from everyday activities and easy walking. I’ve noticed, too, the inability to even locate/contract the gluteus muscle and I wonder if this why.

M October 30, 2015 at 3:05 pm

Do you have any articles from medical journals or studies that you could share? I’m about to go see a doctor to request some labs, and I would like to be equipped for the likelihood that she thinks I’m nuts.

Walter Groth December 12, 2015 at 7:41 pm

any particular tests to be performed to see if your Adrenals are functioning right ? like to ask about them at next appointment, ” aces and pains from all over the place, also can it cause constant Gas pain? Thanks

lydia December 15, 2015 at 6:53 am

Yes Walter – the most comprehensive option would be a hair tissue mineral analysis, this shows current biochemistry and can tell you more than just a saliva panel will as it helps to see the body as a whole vs. just a few of the adrenal gland hormones.

Mary December 12, 2015 at 9:16 pm

I have been falling lately, about 6 weeks ago I slipped on some water and fell on cement. I felt my foot roll under and I am sure I heard a crack. Also scraped my arm. six weeks later the ankle is getting worse and I just had it x rayed because I resist going for help and there’s nothing wrong! Well this article is giving me hope. I started walking today short distances, and I plan to do more juicing and eat better.

Ben February 6, 2016 at 10:19 pm

This is an interesting article. I have had ongoing back problems caused by weakness in my glutes for a few years. A physio identified this as the cause of my back problems, and gave me some stretches to help. In the past few months I have become very fatigued, and developed hypoglycemia responses to some food. There are also other symptoms like waking up around 1am, brain fog and blurred vision, so I believe it is adrenal fatigue. Vitamins are helping.

Doctorsahaab August 29, 2016 at 3:06 am

Lovely blog

Stephanie October 27, 2016 at 6:16 pm

Great article!!! It is like you were writing this just for what I’m going through now. It’s time I finally dealt with my stress and healed my adrenals! Thank you for sharing this knowledge and I hope to continue to come back to your site for more great info like this. Much thanks!

Janet November 1, 2016 at 12:10 am

Yes, thank you for all the info……this is also me through and through……now to try to recover as I have problems with legs stiffening up after walking somewhat… I pray my body gets stronger,……

kate November 23, 2016 at 10:39 am

Any suggestions on what to do to help the back??

Hilda Afonso December 2, 2016 at 12:06 am

This article is me. It took me 6 months to realise what was wrong with me physically. Stress has a huge impact on a person’s physical health.

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