Human growth hormone, also called HGH, is produced by the pituitary gland. It is important in childhood to help fuel growth and to maintain organs and tissues in the body. HGH production begins to reduce in middle age. The natural slowdown of HGH production has stimulated interest in researching whether synthetic HGH use may slow the aging process and help regain youthful vitality. Synthetic HGH is prescribed for adults with growth hormone deficiency and people with AIDs or HIV-related muscle wasting.
HGH must be injected and is available by prescription only. HGH injections may cause swelling of the hands, feet, arms or legs. This swelling may go away during treatment or with reduction in dosage or usage.
Muscle & Joint Pain
Another side of effect of HGH use is musculoskeletal discomfort with muscle or joint pain and aches or stiffness in the hands and feet. This side effect may only occur during treatment and resolve after discontinuing use of HGH.
Carpal tunnel syndrome is another possible side effect. This affects the median nerve that runs from the forearm to the hand and can cause weakness, pain or numbness in the hands and wrists, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.
HGH may cause enlargement of the breasts in some men. A study by L. Cohn, et al., published in the October 1993 issue of "Clinical Endocrinology," examined the relationship between insulin-like growth hormone, changes in lean body mass and adipose mass and negative side effects during HGH treatments. The placebo-controlled study involved 83 healthy elderly men divided into two groups, one taking HGH and one placebo. They noted that continuous treatment with HGH was associated with an increased frequency of carpal tunnel syndrome or gynaecomastia, breast enlargement.
HGH use may cause an increased risk for diabetes mellitus in acromegalic patients, patients with increased growth hormone output, according to M. Saugy, et al., in an article published in the July 2006 issue of the "British Journal of Sports Medicine." Acromegalic patients are also at risk for hypertension, which can lead to cardiovascular disease and premature death.
HGH is administered by injection from a physician or by the patient. If the syringes are non-sterile or contaminated, there is risk of cross contamination from disease such as HIV/AIDS and hepatitis.