Fibromyalgia is a complex medical condition. It presents with a number of symptoms which appear unrelated.
Some medical practitioners doubt that it is really a disease and some prefer to think of it as a disease complex.
Some classify it as a musculoskeletal disease because it affects muscles and joints while others prefer to place it with neuropsychiatric disorders because it affects neurological functions.
However, fibromyalgia is real and it is becoming increasingly common.
[box type="note"]Varied causes of fibromyalgia have been proposed. These include hereditary, stress, low growth hormone, neurotransmitter dysfunction and trauma but evidence is now pointing to a new cause: thyroid disease especially hypothyroidism.[/box]
Hypothyroidism can either be a result of the production of insufficient amounts of thyroid hormones or thyroid hormone resistance.
When inadequate levels of thyroid hormones are produced this can be due to a malfunction of one of thyroid gland, pituitary gland or the hypothalamus.
In primary hypothyroidism, the thyroid gland cannot produce enough of thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3) due to some structural damage or low levels of iodine.
Secondary hypothyroidism, on the other hand, affects the pituitary gland and results because this gland does not produce sufficient thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) to induce the thyroid gland to produce T3 and T4.
Tertiary hypothyroidism is caused by failure of the hypothalamus to release enough thyrotropin-releasing hormone (TRH) to induce the pituitary to produce sufficient amount of TSH.
Thyroid hormone resistance is however a slightly different form of hypothyroidism. Here, adequate quantities of thyroid hormones are released but the body has built a measure of resistance to them so that even higher levels of these hormones are required to produce normal effects.
Thyroid hormone resistance is more difficult to detect and diagnose by the common lab thyroid tests. Since these tests will still show normal levels of thyroid hormones, doctors sometimes misdiagnose these cases of hypothyroidism.
Both secondary and tertiary forms of hypothyroidism are difficult to diagnose for similar reasons.
To make sure cases of fibromyalgia caused by hypothyroidism do not go undiagnosed, experts are recommending that doctors depend more on patients’ symptoms than test results. This is because it is easier to diagnose fibromyalgia this way.
Since hypothyroidism is easily treatable, most people diagnosed with fibromyalgia continue to suffer because many cases of hypothyroidism go undiagnosed.
Hypothyroidism and fibromyalgia both share certain symptoms such as fatigue, joint pains, slow reflexes and neurological damage. Other common symptoms of hypothyroidism include weight gain, hair loss, low pulse rate and heart rate, sensitivity to cold and dry skin and mucosal surfaces.
If these symptoms are also present in a fibromyalgia patient then hypothyroidism should be strongly suspected.
Apart from treating fibromyalgia with thyroid hormone replacements and other hypothyroid remedies, patients should also exercise normally and adopt nutritious diets especially ones containing foods with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.