There is a growing body of evidence within the scientific community that points to a connection between fibromyalgia and the thyroid – specifically, hypothyroidism. There is an overlap of symptoms in both conditions, namely exhaustion, body temperature that is lower than normal, joint and muscle pain, difficulty concentrating, problems with memory, and depression.
Dr. Jacob Teitelbaum is an expert in fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome (the first cousin of fibromyalgia).
He writes that the “master” gland in the brain, the hypothalamus, is the link between fibromyalgia and hypothyroidism:
“This gland [hypothalamus] controls sleep, your hormonal system, temperature regulation, and the autonomic nervous system (e.g. – blood pressure, blood flow, and movement of food through your bowel). This is why you can’t sleep, you have low temperature, you gain weight, and (because poor sleep causes immune dysfunction) you are prone to multiple and recurrent infections. The hypothalamic dysfunction by itself can therefore, cause most of the symptoms! I suspect that problems with the “energy furnaces” in your cells (called the mitochondria) often cause the hypothalamic suppression.”
Dr. Teitelbaum recommends that fibromyalgia patients be tested for hypothyroidism and that patients with hypothyroid be tested for fibromyalgia. This is a sensible thing to do since researchers suspect that both hypothyroidism and fibromyalgia are auto-immune disorders.
Initially, many people with fibromyalgia are treated with medications used for mood disorders and other mental health symptoms. However, if the symptoms of fibromyalgia persist after a period of time, the next step is to take a look at thyroid dysfunction.
Tests for thyroid function and complications are then performed. (If you are a fibromyalgia patient and have not been tested for thyroid involvement, it’s beneficial to request that your doctor perform those tests.)
Thyroid Replacement Therapy:
If the patient’s blood work indicates an imbalance in hormones (usually hypothyroidism), thyroid replacement therapy is begun. When synthetic or natural thyroid hormones are given, sleep becomes more regular, metabolic levels stabilize, and energy levels become higher. Mood improves, depression lifts, memory is sharper, and pain lessens.
The Connection is Real:
Because the connection between fibromyalgia and hypothyroidism appears to be real, researchers and physicians are beginning to give it validity. More research will need to be performed to learn more about fibromyalgia as a metabolic hormonal disorder.
Lowe, J., Dr. (n.d.). Sunnier Times for Fibromyalgia Patients. The Fibromyalgia Research Foundation. Retrieved on March 21, 2011, from http://www.fibromyalgiaresearch.org/
Cutler, N. (2011). Fibromyalgia and Hypothyroidism Medication Tips. Ezine @rticles. Retrieved on March 21, 2011, from http://ezinearticles.com/?Fibromyalgia-and-Hypothyroidism-Medication-Tips&id=216433
Cadena, C. (2010). Fibromyalgia and Risks for Thyroid Involvement. associated content from Yahoo. Retrieved on March 21, 2011, from http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/2712475/fibromyalgia_and_risks_for_thyroid.html?cat=70
Lowe, Dr. (2010). The Metabolic Treatment of Fibromyalgia. drlowe.com. Retrieved on March 21, 2011, from http://www.drlowe.com/
Shomon, M. (2004). The Thyroid/Fibromyalgia Cnnection. About.com. Retrieved on March 21, 2011, from http://thyroid.about.com/cs/fibromyalgiacfs/a/fibrothyroid_4.htm