WASHINGTON, Nov. 11, 2013 — Two new studies on fibromyalgia focus the problem on the thyroid, pituitary and hypothalamus, and suggest new avenues of relief for sufferers.
Research from the Fibromyalgia Research Foundation reveals deficient thyroid hormone regulation (DTHR) as an underlying cause of Fibromyalgia (FM). Poor diet, poor physical fitness and metabolism slowing drugs are primary contributors to symptoms as do additional hormonal imbalances of cortisol, estrogen and progesterone.
Another study, by Dr. John Lowe, Diplomat of the American Academy of Pain Management and Director of Research at the Fibromyalgia Research Foundation in the UK claims “indisputable proof” that the primary cause of fibromyalgia (FM) are with the pituitary gland or the hypothalamus.
The most often reported symptoms of FM so closely match with hypothyroidism that many physicians order a standard thyroid test in response to complaints from FM sufferers. When that test comes back negative, physicians dismiss a thyroid or hormonal disease.
Health care practitioners use the TSH test, or thyroid stimulating hormone tests, to determine whether the thyroid is malfunctioning. TSH is produced when the hypothalamus releases a substance called thyrotropin releasing hormone (TRH) and triggers the pituitary gland to release TSH. TSH causes the thyroid to make two hormones, triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4), to help control body metabolism.
Many of those tested show ‘thyroid anti-bodies’ with a normal TSH. The presence of anti-bodies indicates the thyroid is in the process auto-immune failure. However, because the TSH levels are normal, doctors do not prescribe medications.
Endocrinologists support treating the thyroid even if the TSH test is within normal range. The patient may present with symptoms of hypo-thyroidism, hyper-thyroidism or a flux of the two and often told they have FM.
The UK studies claim this description is, in fact, FM.
There is a condition called thyroiditis, where the thyroid is inflamed and reveals FM like symptoms. A most serious issue is when TSH results come back as ‘normal range’. This affliction is most prevalent in females.
Many doctors do not understand this is a bell curve measurement and ‘normal’ may not mean ‘individual,’ and two different laboratories may indicate two separate results.
The words of Dr. Elizabeth Vliet who runs a women’s health clinic art All Saints Hospital in Fort Worth TX and is the author of “Screaming to be heard: Hormonal connections women Suspect and Doctors Ignore,” seems to support the UK findings.
“The problem I have found is that too often women are told their thyroid is normal without having the complete thyroid test done. Of course, what most people and many physicians don’t realize is that a ‘normal range’ on a laboratory report is just that: a range.
A given person may require higher or lower levels to feel well and to function optimally. I think we must look at the lab test results along with the clinical picture described by the patient.
I have a series of more than 100 patients, all but two are women, who had a normal TSH and turned out to have significantly elevated thyroid anti-bodies that meant they needed thyroid medication in order to feel normal.
This type of oversight is particularly common with a disease call thyroiditis which is 25 times more common in females than males. A woman may experience symptoms of the disease for months to years before the TSH goes up”
This fits nicely with the UK research which states the condition may not rest with the thyroid but with the pituitary gland or the hypothalamus.
The UK research claims plausible evidence of at least 40 abnormalities of FM patients as a result of testing within range and show such symptoms as:
Widespread pain, tenderness, chronic fatigue, stiffness, depression, fuzzy brained, anxious, intolerance to cold , hot flashes (dependant) bowel issues, sleep disturbances, numbness and tingling, dry skin and mucus membranes, headaches and exercise intolerance-all hallmarks of FM.
Too little thyroid regulation also affects the metabolic aspects of FM and the UK studies concluded resting metabolic rates of those with thyroid issues undetected by conventional testing measured of 29 percent lower than average. A second test indicated 30 percent.
Basal body temperature was 96.95 and the second study 96.38. This lower core temperature combined with a poor resting metabolic rate can make an FM victim run the gamut in symptoms.
The new research provides hope for a cure for FM sufferers. The Fibromyalgia Research Foundation ran clinical trials with FM patients using thyroid hormone therapy without using the T4 hormone and found those in the controls groups that had FM improved substantially when re-tested one to five years after initial treatment.
The researchers claim “granite hard findings” for the cause of FM and the relief via treatment.
FM sufferers may benefit from consultations with a neuro- endocrinologist for diagnosis and treatment. An all-natural, reduced calorie diet along with moderate exercise is mandatory to diminish or eliminate symptoms. Analgesics and sleep medication may also help reduce the symptoms of FM.
Paul Mountjoy is a Virginia based writer and Psychotherapist