Fibromyalgia and the Thyroid disease

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The thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped organ located in the base of your neck. The thyroid hormones are tyrosine based hormones produced by the thyroid gland that are primarily responsible for regulation of metabolism. T₃ and T₄ are partially composed of iodine.

The thyroid’s hormones regulate vital body functions, including Central and peripheral nervous systems, heart rate, breathing, muscle strength, body temperature, cholesterol levels and much more. The thyroid gland is about 2-inches long and lies in front of your throat below the prominence of thyroid cartilage sometimes called the Adam’s apple.

The thyroid is part of the endocrine system, which is made up of glands that produce, store, and release hormones into the bloodstream so the hormones can reach the body’s cells. It is important that T3 and T4 levels are neither too high nor too low. Two glands in the brain, the hypothalamus and the pituitary communicate to maintain T3 and T4 balance.

T3 and T4 regulate your heart rate and how fast your intestines process food. So if T3 and T4 levels are low, your heart rate may be slower than normal, and you may have constipation and weight gain. If T3 and T4 levels are high, you may have a rapid heart rate and diarrhea and weight loss.

Symptoms of Thyroid Disease You Mustn’t Ignore

  1. Neck swelling
  2. Muscle pain and seizures
  3. Tiredness and irritability (Hypothyroidism causes the feeling of tiredness and loss of strength)
  4. Changes in heart rate (Less than Normal rate- 60-100 beats/min)
  5. Dramatic weight loss or gain
  6. Dry skin and brittle nails
  7. Body temperature regulation problems (Cold Fits and Hot Fits)

Fibromyalgia and thyroid disease

Fibromyalgia and thyroid disease are strongly linked. Up to 15% of patients with hypothyroidism will develop fibromyalgia, a link that has led scientists to investigate the possibility that both diseases have the same underlying cause.

Two facts about thyroid hormones are pertinent to fibromyalgia, their role in sleep and their role in setting hormone sensitivity. Fibromyalgia is thought to be the result of an increase in sensitivity to pain as a result of neurochemical imbalances in the brain and spinal cord.

It is thought that fibromyalgia and thyroid hormone may be linked as a result of the ability of thyroid hormone to set the body’s sensitivity to a number of hormones. Though no direct effect has been linked, thyroid hormone is known to affect levels of serotonin, one of the major brain chemicals implicated in the pathology of fibromyalgia. It’s significant that a significant number of the estimated 27 million people with hypothyroidism end up also being diagnosed with fibromyalgia.

Both conditions share many similar symptoms, including fatigue, exhaustion, depression, brain fog, and varying degrees of muscle and joint pain. Fibromyalgia affects as many as 8 million people in the U.S., occurring mainly in women of childbearing age. In general, fibromyalgia strikes women seven times more often than men.

Some experts theorize that that like most cases of hypothyroidism in the United States, fibromyalgia is also an autoimmune disease. Dr. Teitelbaum believes that at the core of thyroid dysfunction and fibromyalgia is a problem with the dysfunction or suppression of a master gland in the brain called the hypothalamus.

More than half of the people with thyroid issues have no idea they have one and 90% of these have hypothyroidism, or an under active thyroid gland. It is vital that your doctor check six different blood markers, TSH, Free T4, Free T3, Reverse T3, Thyroid Per oxidase Antibodies and Thyroglobulin Antibodies – to measure your thyroid glands function. It’s imperative that your doctor use the optimal levels rather than the standard reference range when assessing and diagnosing thyroid disorders.

Getting my patient’s thyroid levels into an optimal range typically alleviates their fatigue, brain fog, sleep disturbances and depression. Fibromyalgia patients’ symptoms are exactly the same as those of patients who have hypothyroidism and the “peripheral” form of thyroid hormone resistance. A large percentage of fibromyalgia patients have high anti-thyroid antibodies.

A significant percentage of female patients with high anti-thyroid antibodies but “normal” TSH and thyroid hormone levels have chronic, widespread pain that is often diagnosed as fibromyalgia. Fibromyalgia patients as a group also have a high incidence of thyroid function test results showing “primary” and “central” hypothyroidism.

In primary hypothyroidism, a thyroid hormone deficiency results from failure of the thyroid gland to produce enough thyroid hormone. In central hypothyroidism, the patient’s thyroid gland produces too little thyroid hormone for another reason: one of the two structures in the brain that regulate the thyroid gland (either the hypothalamus or the pituitary) is malfunctioning. As a result, the thyroid gland doesn’t produce an optimal amount of thyroid hormone.

Another important link between fibromyalgia and thyroid hormone is the role that thyroid hormone has in regulating sleep cycles. Because disorder sleep is a major component of fibromyalgia, it is speculated the sleep regulation may play a role in the development of the disease or at least be the result of the same disease-causing mechanism.

If you have hypothyroidism with symptoms that suggest fibromyalgia, or you have fibromyalgia, you may want to consider seeing a practitioner with expertise in both conditions, who views them as having an underlying connection.

Treatment Trials

It’s definitely possible to restore the health of someone with fibromyalgia, as well as many people who have thyroid and autoimmune thyroid conditions.  But one must first detect the cause of these conditions, and then take the necessary measures to restore the person’s health back to normal. 

Doing this will take a great deal of time and commitment on the person’s part, but if it means there is a possibility of restoring their health back to normal then most people find this “sacrifice” well worth it. Research suggests that people with fibromyalgia have lower resting metabolic rate than people without fibromyalgia.  That would lead to lower body temperatures.  

If you have fibromyalagia, start taking your body temperature. For the most accurate results, use a liquid metal thermometer, take it three times a day, starting three hours after you wake up, for several days, and average the temperature for each day. Then, take it every day during treatment. You’ll be looking for consistent normal body temperatures with treatment.

Many of the patients who can normalize their temperatures with T3 are treated adequately with T3, alone or in combination with T4, see a significant dramatic improvement in their symptoms of fibromyalgia.  This process usually takes a few weeks to a few months. Treatment with T3–the active form of thyroid hormone–can help, and often even completely eliminate, your symptoms of muscle pain, brain fog and fatigue.


  • Fibromyalgia and Your Thyroid: What You Need to Know via Wilson’s Syndrome
  • Hypothyroidism and Fibromyalgia–What’s the Connection? by Mary Shoman via Very Well
  • Bazzichi L, Rossi A, Giuliano T, et al. Association between thyroid autoimmunity and fibromyalgic disease severity. Clin Rheumatol. 2007 Dec;26(12):2115-20. Epub 2007 May 9.
  • Garrison RL, Breeding PC. A metabolic basis for fibromyalgia and its related disorders: the possible role of resistance to thyroid hormone.  Med Hypotheses  2003 Aug;61(2):182-9.
  • Lowe JC, Yellin J, Honeyman-Lowe G. Female fibromyalgia patients: lower resting metabolic rates than matched healthy controls. Med Sci Monit. 2006 Jul;12(7):CR282-9. Epub 2006 Jun 28.
  • Suk JH, Lee JH, Kim JM. Association between thyroid autoimunity and fibromyalgia.  Exp Clin Endocrinol Diabetes. 2012 July;120(7):401-4. doi: 10.1055/s-0032-1309008. Epub 2012


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