Connection between hypothyroidism and fibromyalgia

Hypothyroidism is a condition that affects the thyroid gland. It is a small butterfly-shaped gland and is located in the front of the neck. Triiodothyronine and thyroxine hormones are released by the thyroid gland, which helps the body in regulating growth, metabolism and cellular development.

When there is impairment in thyroid glands, the above-mentioned hormones are failed to have enough production needed in regulating the body. People start to develop hypothyroidism symptoms, once this happens.

People suffering from fibromyalgia may have hypothyroidism as well, especially if they are experiencing some symptoms from the condition. There are a lot of people who experience hypothyroidism while having fibromyalgia.

It is hard for people to know which of these conditions they are suffering from since there are similar symptoms of both of these conditions. Sometimes people have symptoms of both of the diseases because they are suffering from both of the conditions.

We are going to examine the relationship or connection between these two diseases in this article.

The connection of hypothyroidism with Fibromyalgia

As we have talked about earlier that hypothyroidism is a condition that affects the thyroid gland. Around 20 million people in the US are affecting from it. Hypothyroidism can be developed in both men and women. There are more chances of women to develop hypothyroidism after the age of 40 as compared to older men at the same age. 17% of women are found to be affected by it. There are some other factors like genetics, diabetes, radiation therapy and thyroid surgery that can increase the risk of developing it.

An underactive thyroid gland occurs in hypothyroidism. An autoimmune disease, a thyroid surgery, pituitary disorders and radiation therapy can cause this disease. We can say that these conditions cause hypothyroidism. The symptoms correlate with the symptoms of fibromyalgia. There are some similarities between them like both can have depression, widespread pain, muscle stiffness and sleep disturbances.

There are 15% of people having hypothyroidism also suffer from fibromyalgia, while people who are having fibromyalgia have thyroid gland with low functioning. Researchers think that hypothyroidism and fibromyalgia have the same cause. Fibromyalgia and hypothyroidism are linked to certain things that include infections, illnesses, chemical exposures and nervous system disorders.

Hypothyroidism is not diagnosed in people with fibromyalgia because of the similarity in the symptoms. So it makes it difficult to diagnose the other condition.

What is behind the fibromyalgia hypothyroidism relationship?

Both of these conditions have a lot to do with each other due to the thyroid gland. In 1997, the relationship between fibromyalgia and the thyroid’s intrinsic functions were mentioned in the first report of Dr. John Lowe, a progenitor of fibromyalgia research.

Dr. John Lowe’s findings were portrayed in the report published in the Clinical Bulletin of Myofascial Therapy that showed the existence of a clear relationship between fibromyalgia and thyroid function in some form. Due to that, he believed that the dysfunctioning of thyroids and some form of hypometabolism provided some explanation behind this disorder.

Thyroid tests were conducted on patients with fibromyalgia by Dr. John in order to find the results. People who were found with high levels of thyroid stimulating hormone weren’t tested further. People who were found to have normal levels of the thyroid stimulating hormone were tested with a thyrotropin-releasing hormone stimulation test.

The results showed that:

  • Some sort of primary Hypothyroidism is found in at least 10.5% people with fibromyalgia.
  • Normal thyroid state was found in at least 36.8 % of people who were tested.
  • TRH which is similar than central hypothyroidism was found in at least 52.6% people.

Overall results showed that almost 64% of fibromyalgia patients have some deficiencies related to thyroid hormones.  In simple words, hypothyroidism is found more in people having fibromyalgia than it is found in general population. Interestingly, suggestions were given by Dr. John for treating fibromyalgia with thyroid hormone.

He suggested that T3 thyroid hormone can be used in treating fibromyalgia. “Thyroid replacement” medications such as levothyroxine sodium and Thyrosine Complex were also prescribed by other doctors. Moreover, other fibromyalgia treatment alternatives such as magnesium and vitamin C and grape seed extract was also used.

What is the link between fibromyalgia and hypothyroidism?

 It is important to see how both these conditions link together after seeing the evidence of some relationship between them.

Thyroid hormones affect people with fibromyalgia in two ways:

They play a role to determine the sensitivity of hormones.

They play a role to affect how people sleep.

It is thought that increase in pain sensitivity that is caused by neurochemical imbalances in brain and spine causes fibromyalgia. There is some basis of the link between the two conditions. Maybe the working of thyroid hormones causes some link between the two conditions. It is believed that changes in brain and spine’s neurochemicals cause this since thyroid hormones set the sensitivity of body thresholds to other hormones.

Serotonin level in the brain is also affected by thyroid hormones. Since Fibromyalgia affects serotonin level in the brain. Regular sleep cycles are also maintained by the thyroid hormones. So, researchers also examine that development of fibromyalgia might be done with sleep regulations.

Still, more research is on the way to uncover true links between fibromyalgia and hypothyroidism. Till now, we assume that there is some link between these two.

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