Fibromyalgia—it’s not what you think!
“A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.”
~ Max Planck
Diagnosis: Fibromyalgia….says your doctor. But did you know there may be much more to this story than your doctor has been taught or explains?
Fibromyalgia (FMS) is the official clinical label to describe chronic musculoskeletal pain or tenderness--i.e. in your joints, tendons, muscles or other soft tissues. You might feel the pain no matter what you are doing, or experience it with pressure on a particular area of your body. There are at least 18 identified “tender points” associated with fibromyalgia. All the latter discomfort is all too real. Depression, anxiety and even headaches can accompany the syndrome of Fibromyalgia for some, as well.
But for many thyroid patients, what’s not real is to assume this is a “disease” all it’s own, i.e. not related to hypothyroidism. It may very well be! Quoting from Dr. John S. Lowe: in most cases, fibromyalgia is the result of “hypometabolism of select tissues”, i.e. “the clinical manifestation of inadequate thyroid hormones due to thyroid hormone deficiency and/or resistance.” (page 75, The Metabolic Treatment of Fibromyalgia, 2000)
i.e. in many cases, “fibromyalgia” may simply a symptom of undiagnosed or under-treated hypothyroidism…or hypothyroidism which continues due to low iron and/or cortisol issues, or if one has thyroid hormone resistance.
When Lowe wrote what I quoted above, he referred to it as a hypothesis–a soft way to propose to his medical colleagues that there may be more to this story. But patient experience has underscored that for all-too-many, once they were able to get out of their hypothyroid state, the fibro pain finally went away. When patients stop letting the inadequate TSH lab test dictate whether they are “normal” or not, and when patients stop treating their hypothyroidism with the inadequate T4-only meds like Synthroid and go with natural desiccated thyroid…symptoms of “fibromyalgia” have been completely removed.
Equally as important as a treatment which uses direct T3 like natural desiccated thyroid or T3-only added in, some patients report needing to bring low cortisol and low iron levels back up in the full treatment.
So when you read on the internet or from your doctor’s mouth that fibromyalgia…
- has no cure
- has no known cause
- is an emotional or psychiatric problem
- is in your genes
- is a disease all its own, not connected to your hypo
- is simply due to stress
- is caused by lack of sleep
- can only be “managed” or “controlled”
…have healthy doubt. Because many patients have reported that it went away once they
- 1) stopped going by the TSH lab
- 2) treated their hypothyroidism effectively with natural desiccated thyroid (or the addition of T3-only )
- 3) discovered and treated their low cortisol and low iron
P.S. And “Chronic Fatigue Syndrome” falls into the same category. It just may be the result of undiagnosed or undertreated hypothyroidism.
Are you saying that ALL cases of Fibromyalgia are related to hypothyroid?
No. There can be other causes of the pain. Mayo lists several here.
What patients have experienced is that a ‘large body’ just may be related to an undiagnosed or undertreated hypothyroid state. Many cases of thyroid disease go undiagnosed because doctors rely on the TSH lab test. And unfortunately, the TSH can be normal for years before it rises high enough to reveal one’s hypothyroid, so you could have been hypo all those years. For some, the TSH NEVER rises and one is still hypothyroid.
If you have been diagnosed with hypothyroid, being on T4-only like Synthroid has caused some patients to have a diagnosis of Fibromyalgia. And when they moved over to Natural Desiccated Thyroid, the pain disappeared.
Fibromyalgia and Lyme
We know there’s a connection between the symptoms of Fibromyalgia and having hypothyroidism. But there are also theories that for some, Lyme disease could also give symptoms similar to Fibromyalgia. In other words, the bacteria (Borrelia) one receives from a tick bite will burrow into your cells and create all sorts of havoc, including similar inflammation and pain.
STORIES OF FIBROMYALGIA
LORRAINE: I have Graves disease, had subtotal thyroidectomy (botched), hematoma, emergency second surgery resulting in lost parathyroids. On 100mcg levothyroxine I felt ghastly, high blood pressure, tachycardia, high cholesterol, palpitations, chronic fatigue, hair loss, memory loss and diagnosed fibromyalgia when the pain got worse. Suffered that for six years and found NDT. Blood pressure normal, cholesterol perfect, hair regrown, pain and fatigue of “fibromyalgia” a distant memory. It’s funny how these new diseases were coined fairly soon after the TSH became the joke, I mean gold standard! 🙂
JOAN: I am someone who was diagnosed with fibromyalgia years before my dx of Hashi’s. My fibromyalgia is completely gone since starting on NDT. Just as the fibromyalgia was a symptom of my Hashi’s that went undiagnosed for years, other medical complaints have either resolved or are much improved since starting on NDT.
LISBETH: Yes!! I had it for many years on Synthetic T4-only. But got the diagnosis just a few years ago. I went over to Erfa in April, and as I write this in October, all my pains in body are gone! And also my IBS and other things I had.
PATRICIA: For two years after I had a partial thyroidectomy for a goiter, I was told I had fibromyalgia. I read Dr. Jacob Teitelbaum’s book, “From Fatigued to Fanstastic” where I learned that fibromyalgia is often confused with hypothyroidism. Bingo! I immediately knew what was wrong with me. I went to my doctor for thyroid tests and it was confirmed that I had hypothyroidism. For two months I took Synthroid which did nothing for me. After I switched to NDT (Natural Dessicated Thyroid) hormone in the form of Armour Thyroid, despite my doctor’s warning that it would NOT help my pain, all my fibromyalgia pain went away.
ANNA: I’ve gone for years without treatment and all I got was a TSH and “normal”. I changed doctors and because of bronchitis again, asked this one to please check my thyroid. Again, only the TSH and “normal”. He told me I was depressed, Vit. D deficient and needed a multi vitamin, giving me a script for anti depressants (which I didn’t take). I had major gut issues and a third doctor diagnosed me with GERD. He checked only TSH, T3 and T4…”normal”. A acupuncturist brought up fibromyalgia because of pain I was experiencing. I then found a NP after finding the STTM website and facebook group. I went in with a list of tests (from here) to prove I had Hashi’s and hypo. She agreed to put me on Armour but only 30mg. I went back in for a follow up, told her I was actually in more pain due to undermedication and needed her to increase my Armour. She reluctantly agreed to “try” it, thinking it wouldn’t work and that I actually needed different meds for Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue. The day after bumping up my thyroid meds, all my joint pain and muscle aches were gone! If she tries to take me off Armour, I’ve ordered a back up of medication and am in the process of finding yet another new doctor. Knowledge is power. I’ve suffered for 20 years before finally getting some answers. Thank you Janie, your page has changed my life!
JANIS: I had RAI in 1992, got diagnosed with Fibromyalgia in 1997. I had all the pain and tenderness mentioned above and the weakness, brain fog, tiredness, etc. I started seeing a rheumatologist who declared I needed sleep and put me on 3-4 medications which I now can’t get off of. Finally, in 2007, I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism and eventually I got the doctor to give me Armour. The difference was astounding. However, it did not last. I developed RT3 due to low cortisol and eventually went on T3 only to help lower my high RT3. I got better, but it was not til I added in HC (hydrocortisone), which plays a role in helping T3 get to the cells, that things got a lot better.
TAMRA: Read her story here.
Have your own story of fibromyalgia which went away with proper thyroid treatment? Use the Contact at the bottom of this page and send me one paragraph.
The revised Stop the Thyroid Madness book is one book you need in your hands to become better educated! Get it here.