Hypothyroidism and Fibromyalgia is there connection?
Updated: Mar 2
What causes fibromyalgia?
There have been many studies on the causes of fibromyalgia. In the past it has been speculated that there was no "real cause" of fibromyalgia and that the pain from fibromyalgia, was all in the person's head.
I have read many books and medical articles about fibromyalgia and its causes. Studies have concluded, that an under-functioning thyroid, can be the root cause of fibromyalgia symptoms. In some cases, it is not general hypothyroidism that causes the fibromyalgia symptoms, it is often an underlying autoimmune thyroid issue.
In autoimmune hypothyroidism (Hashimoto’s) your body essentially views the thyroid as an immune invader and tries to eradicate it, by attacking the healthy thyroid tissue. This in turn, causes inflammation of the thyroid. Because your thyroid is under attack from malfunctioning immune cells, its ability to make thyroid hormone is impaired. If your thyroid becomes impaired enough, from the constant attack of the malfunctioning immune cells, it can become unable to provide adequate thyroid hormone levels, for proper body functioning. This can cause a variety of signs and symptoms.
Here’s a list of the common signs and symptoms of Hashimoto's Thyroiditis:
Fatigue, weight gain, increase sensitivity to cold, difficulty concentrating, dry skin, nails and hair, constipation, drowsiness, muscle soreness, and increased menstrual flow.
Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is an autoimmune disorder, and women are seven times more likely than men to have an autoimmune disorder. To diagnose Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, you must have one or more laboratory tests done. The three most common tests ordered by physicians to detect thyroid disorders are: Thyroid-stimulating hormone test, anti-thyroid antibodies test, and the free T4 hormone test.
Thyroid-stimulating hormone tests and anti-thyroid antibody tests are indicative of hypothyroidism when results are higher than normal. Free T4 testing is indicative of a poor functioning thyroid if levels are lower than normal. If you have any of the above symptoms linked to hypothyroidism, I would suggest that you see your doctor today and ask about thyroid testing.
In many cases, borderline hypothyroidism or subclinical hypothyroidism, can be the root cause of fibromyalgia symptoms. Subclinical hypothyroidism, occurs when your thyroid is only mildly under functioning. When tested thyroid blood levels are often very near normal laboratory values. Many doctors do not treat subclinical hypothyroidism.
Symptoms of sub-clinical hypothyroidism
Symptoms of sub-clinical hypothyroidism, include many of the same symptoms listed in the above paragraph, indicative of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. In fact, recent evidence has indicated a strong correlation between sub-clinical hypothyroidism and the risk of cardiovascular disease, such as coronary artery disease and heart failure.
In an article from the Journal of thyroid disorders and therapy, it is recommended that physicians treat their patients, (and their patient’s symptoms) not their lab values.
Here is a more complete list of hypothyroid symptoms from the Mayo Clinic:
Hypothyroidism signs and symptoms may include:
Fatigue Increased sensitivity to cold Constipation Dry skin Weight gain Puffy face Hoarseness Muscle weakness Elevated blood cholesterol level Muscle aches, tenderness and stiffness Pain, stiffness or swelling in your joints Heavier than normal or irregular menstrual periods Thinning hair Slowed heart rate Depression Impaired memory
Here is a list of common fibromyalgia symptoms also from the Mayo Clinic: Symptoms of fibromyalgia include: • Widespread pain: The pain associated with fibromyalgia often is described as a constant dull ache that has lasted for at least three months. To be considered widespread, the pain must occur on both sides of your body and above and below your waist. • Fatigue: People with fibromyalgia often awaken tired, even though they report sleeping for long periods of time. Sleep is often disrupted by pain, and many patients with fibromyalgia have other sleep disorders, such as restless legs syndrome and sleep apnea. • Cognitive difficulties: A symptom commonly referred to as "fibro fog" impairs the ability to focus, pay attention and concentrate on mental tasks. • Other problems: Many people who have fibromyalgia also may experience depression, headaches, and pain or cramping in the lower abdomen.
Many symptoms of hypothyroidism and fibromyalgia are the same
As you can see, there are many common overlapping symptoms if you compare the symptoms of hypothyroidism and fibromyalgia. If you have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia and have many symptoms of hypothyroidism, it could be a good idea to have the health of your thyroid checked.
Go to your health care provider and inquire about thyroid testing, explain your concerns. Proper treatment of an underlying thyroid disorder could resolve some, or most of your fibromyalgia symptoms.
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References used in this article Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis Overview The Most Common Cause of Hypothyroidism Written by Kresimira (Mira) Milas MD http://www.endocrineweb.com/conditions/hashimotos-thyroiditis/hashimotos-thyroiditis-overview Symptoms of Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis Signs and Symptoms of Goiter and Hypothyroidism Written by Kresimira (Mira) Milas MD http://www.endocrineweb.com/conditions/hashimotos-thyroiditis/symptoms-hashimotos-thyroiditis Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis Diagnosis Many Tests Can Detect this Common Thyroid Disorder Written by Kresimira (Mira) Milas MD
http://www.endocrineweb.com/conditions/hashimotos-thyroiditis/hashimotos-thyroiditis-diagnosis Hypothyroidism Symptoms and causes By Mayo Clinic Staff http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hypothyroidism/symptoms-causes/dxc-20155382
Fibromyalgia symptoms, Mayo clinic http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/fibromyalgia/basics/symptoms/con-20019243