Are Fibromyalgia and Hypothyroidism Related Ills?

Are Fibromyalgia and Hypothyroidism Related Ills?

Through the Fog
I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism at age 54, and fibromyalgia at age 55. I was symptomatic for both for years before my diagnoses, and have wondered if there could be a connection between the two conditions.

Hypothyroidism is characterized by an under-active thyroid gland, a butterfly-shaped gland located in the front of your neck. Symptoms can be similar to those of fibromyalgia, and range from depression to widespread muscle pain and stiffness, and problems sleeping.

An article by the for-profit website Fibromyalgia Treating, titled “The Relationship Between Hypothyroidism and Fibromyalgia,” states that “fibromyalgia is thought to originate from an increase in pain sensitivity caused by neurochemical imbalances in the brain and spine. The link between fibromyalgia and hypothyroidism has some basis in that. They may have a link because of how the thyroid hormones work. Since the thyroid hormones actually set the body’s sensitivity thresholds to other hormones, it’s believed the alteration of the brain’s and spine’s neurochemicals may cause this to happen.”

According to this article, our thyroid hormones affect serotonin levels in our brain, which is also one of the chemicals in the brain affected by FM. As a side note, I was diagnosed with chemically related depression about four years prior to be being diagnosed with hypothyroidism. Now that diagnosis makes more sense to me.

The different research I’ve found online appears to show a connection between FM and hypothyroidism. I’m sure more research and future studies will help to confirm a link between the two conditions.

If you’ve never had your thyroid tested, you may want to discuss doing so with your doctor. Be sure they test your T3 and T4 levels. Most physicians just test the TSH levels, but that’s not the best indicator.

TSH stands for thyroid stimulating hormone. It’s secreted by the pituitary gland. If your TSH is too high then you’re considered hypothyroid. TSH acts on your thyroid gland to produce the hormones T3 (triiodothyronine) and T4 (thyroxine). T3 and T4 will be low if you’re hypothyroid. Kind of a mouthful, I know.

After having been on a T4 medication for years, my new functional medicine doctor checked my T3 level as well, and added a T3 medication to my daily regimen. It is really helping me to feel better in so many ways. As long as I don’t overdo things and fibromyalgia doesn’t start kicking my butt, I have less brain fog and a bit more energy. I’ve only been on this combo for three months, an I’m excited to see what the long-term results will be.

Have you had your thyroid tested?

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Note: Fibromyalgia News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Fibromyalgia News Today, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to fibromyalgia.

22 comments

  1. Don says:

    Hi Robin, very interesting!
    I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism back in 1995 and didn’t get the fibromyalgia diagnosis until 2015, abfull 20 years later. I have been taking levothyroxine, or synthroid, since that time. The dosage has changed at different times through the years, going both up and down.
    I am curiousvas to what medicines you are taking. I didn’t know that there was one specific to T3 and another to T4, I thought the prescription I had handled everything. Quite honestly, I never was totally well with just the synthroid.
    Thanks for shating, once again you have enlightened me.
    Take care, wishing you well.
    Don

    • Ivette Sturgill says:

      Hi Don, I feel like I have written your post, I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia after the delivery of triplets in 2002 but before that I believe one 2000 or early 2001 I was diagnosed with Graves disease so I had my thyroid gland ablated with the radioactive pill so most of my thyroid gland was destroyed it and after that I was put on synthroid varying the dosage until I was on the supposedly correct range then I got pregnant and my thyroid function was all over and once I was done with the pregnancy my thyroid levels were all over the place, I really believe that my thyroid has something to do with me developing fibromyalgia since my pain started a month after my delivery and then the doctors couldn’t figure out what was causing my pain after extensive test and blood work I was then diagnosed with fibromyalgia but my doctors have always only check my T4 I believe because I have never use any other medicine than synthroid which I go from .100mcg to .088mcg like right now I’m taking .088mcg and I feel very tired and in a lot of pain all the time but according to the range of the lab that is the dosage that I fall into. I will also ask my PCM next time about the T3 test and if it can be treat it separately from the T4 and synthroid. Good luck and I hope we all can find some good doctors that listen to us. I hope my doctor listens when I talk to her about my thyroid but I have the feeling that since I’m on the range they don’t think that it is anything else that need to be done related to my thyroid.

  2. Julie Shenk says:

    Robin, my situation was similar. After the whiplash, six months later FM developed. (accident variety but now know have genetic basis, too). During this time frame or close before, I was having sudden weight gain, losing tons of hair, and gross fatigue set in. MY primary who didn’t believe it was anything but depression refused to test. Then I had a dry skin patch and was sent to a dermatologist (female). She had thyroid issues herself and tested me right away. My level was way off! (She limits the # of patients she sees, too, which may indicate aging with thyroid issues and trying to conquer isn’t perfect ) I so hoped FM would disappear as for some people, the thyroid med helped significantly. I still had FM to contend with. Later, it was found to be Hashimoto’s which is not pleasant to live with even though most doctors just do blood work and provide meds. I did try a variety of methods for overcoming. For me, there were no advanced improvements. I would have no life w/o the thyroid levels kept well. I was diagnosed with OA as well shortly thereafter. Having all three plus S.A.D. is a real trip. But God provides a way up, over, around, through. Still a rather hard path. Adding cholesterol woes; BP; and now Osteoporosis put me at almost wanting to give up. But NOPE. He is greater still.

  3. June Farrell says:

    I live in the central Ohio area. Does anyone know a physician who will treat fibromyalgia using this hypothroidism theory?

    • Stephanie Marie Chapanar says:

      June, I see Dr. Wojno at Crystal Arthritis Clinic in Fairlawn, Ohio for my fibromyalgia. He is a wonderful rheumatologist. I was diagnosed with hypothyrodism and he insisted on thyroid meds because thyroid and fibro have common symptoms.
      Hope this helps! Never let fibro steal your joy!
      Stephanie

  4. Don says:

    Thanks Robin!
    I have been taking the levothyroxine for the 20+ years. Started out at .125mg, got as high as .225mg, usually between .150 and .200 with it now at .150 (but thinking .175 would be better. Before I went to a Rhuematology specialist all my primary care doctor would do is check it and say I was fine or adjust me a little bit. I knew there was more going on with the way my health was worsening, hence finally the fibromyalgia diagnosis. None of my doctors ever explained there was a different medicine for the T3, I will definitely check into that – thanks! I also have had cholesterol issues, been diagnosed with Hashimotos disease, and had 50 pound weight gain when the fibro really reared it’s ugly head. My BP was always perfect, but has had some high fluctuations the past couple years. I often believe the chronic fatigue is the worst part of it all.

    Thanks again Robin, and everybody else, for sharing.

    • Robin Dix says:

      Hey Don, I started out 50mcg and then went up to 75mcg. I backed that off to 5 days a week because that’s what I felt best at. It’s important to work with our doctors, but we know how good or ill our body feels. I agree with you that the fatigue is the worst part!

  5. Grace from Australia says:

    Robin you again touched on something I am concerned about. In addition to FM; Osteoporosis, Osteoarthritis etc. etc., I have thyroid nodules (one rather big)and also a thickening of the oesophagus lining due to reflux. I have been tested for the thyroid but everything comes up as ‘no problem’. So why are those blasted nodules growing then? I have every day and night a sore throat. I take Kelp (1000mg)but don’t know what else to do. Btw, I just want to say that after reading another post and comments I have finally got my hands on Magnesium WITH Malic Acid. Not available in Australia but I got it through the iHerb website. And…it seems to make a difference with pain levels. Really! This forum is so useful.

  6. Denise Bault says:

    I, too, was diagnosed with hypothyrodism years ago. One thing we all should be aware of is this: the range that is given on blood tests is just that…a range. Many of us fall within the”guidelines” yet continue to have symptoms. I’ve been taking levothyroxine for many years. Since then, I’ve again had my T4 and T3 checked and both were within the “parameters of the NORMAL range.” My point is that it is simply a range. So, let’s say the range is between 7-9. Would a person be able to walk into a shoe store and put a size 9 foot into a size 7 shoe and have it “fit” or vice versa? Of course not. So remember and advise your doctor that these ranges are simply that. It’s the median range for the normal population. And we all know there is nothing normal about fibromyalgia!

  7. Patty Cline says:

    I have had fibromyalgia for at least 30 years now and it is now getting worse instead of better. I have tried everything and the only thing that does help is magnesium, vitamin D (I have a deficiency) and a pain pill 1/2 x 3 daily and Flexaril for the restless legs I have at night, kicking up a storm and everyone near me LOL. I have had my thyroid checked and it is normal range, but my sister has underactive thyroid, told my doctor that and he keeps testing but it is okay. He does check T3, T4 and TSH. My problem is the pain, it is just awful at times, but I am working 3 days a week, I am 69 years of age, and hopefully can completely retire next year. I am a medical transcriptionist so I sit for 8 hours x 3 days and I do get up every 1/2 hour and walk around. I go to a physiatrist every 3 months and he would like me to completely retire, so I asked him if he would pay my bills for me and he laughed, just like asking to get rid of stress, years ago, I asked doctor if he would take my kids for a couple of weeks, he (a different doctor) laughed too. Anyways, I have been in 4 car/bus accidents, had 7 major surgeries and then diagnosed with fibromyalgia after that, so there has to be a definite relation there I think anyways. I have chronic fatigue, headaches at times, but this just awful achy feeling all over, and don’t even ask me about rainy or humid weather, then I would just like to put comforter over my head until weather improves. I know people with fibro all have different stories, and I am on a quest to see if there is something I am missing that could help me so I am open to any and all ideas on how to soothe this old achy body. I have tried melatonin, Lyrica and other meds, but I do have allergies to some meds and I also have irritable bowel. Thank you and gentle hugs to all of you.

  8. Shannon says:

    I was not diagnosed with any thyroid issues. Though I do recall my mother having a cyst removed from that area. The front of her throat anyway.

    I was tested for thyroid issues and nothing showed up. I had a larger nodule somewhere but that’s it. I do not get a sore throat (thank goodness!) and have no issues to do with my throat at all. I have post nasal drip and allergies (even to my 3 longhair cats lol) but it’s a small price to pay to have my beloved fur babies.

    So if you do NOT have thyroid issues but have been diagnosed with FM, then what?

      • Shannon says:

        Robin, I was diagnosed in 2010. But had pain issues long before that. I just had sudden severe chest pains at work, which turned out to be costochondritis (pain and swelling of the cartilage that connects your ribs to your sternum) – which has never resolved (usually goes away by itself) and still remains to be a big source of my daily pain.

  9. Don says:

    Hi Ivette!

    Isn’t it amazing that we all have similarities in our medical history yet they cannot seem to discover the exact causes and thus better treatment. Thank God we all have Robin, each other, and this venue in which to share and connect. What we need to do is collectively get together and form something to get better attention to our suffering and our needs. You know, I might start working on that during the times I do feel well enough to pursue that course of action.

    Ivette, see if your primary care physician will refer you to a rheumatologist for further testing and hopefully relief. Stay in touch, we all need each other to help get through this period of our lives (at least I think so and appreciate every person’s input).

    Take care now, wishing you the best!
    (PS- I am not sure where in my story I had triplets, I had better check back in on that. LOL, still have my sense of humor)

  10. Denise Bault says:

    Don, a great place to become an advocate for fibromyalgia and funding for it is on Change.org. You can even start your own petition. Also, May is fibromyalgia awareness month. NOW is the time to contact newspapers, television news producers, social media sites, etc. to help spread the word about this bizarre, chronic, invisible illness…

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