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Fibromyalgia and Your Thyroid: What You Need to Know

If you have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia, you should learn about how  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.

FibromayalgiaThis treatment can help even if you’ve been told you have normal thyroid function and have normal blood levels of thyroid hormones — T4, T3 and TSH. It can help if you are taking T4 (Synthroid, or levothyroxine) for hypothyroidism and still not feeling fully functional.  In either case, however, you will might have low body temperature, averaging below 98.6 measured orally, typically below 97.8.  That’s a sign that your body is not getting enough T3, the active form of thyroid hormone. Either your body is not converting T4 to T3, or you are having problem with thyroid receptor sites on cells. These receptor sites are the portals for T4 needs toto be transported into the cells where it can be converted to T3 which attaches to the nuclear receptors, thereby affecting DNA transcription, thereby affecting, and then, used for many critical biological functions, such as proper energy metabolism, body temperature regulation, and central nervous system function.

Research shows a connection between fibromyalgia and thyroid problems, especially when there is an autoimmune aspect to the thyroid problem, such as Hashimoto’s.  While there are likely a number of causes for fibromyalgia, one likely scenario is hypometabolism— a problem of low energy production in cells.  This, in turn, can be caused by problems with thyroid hormones. 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, I suggest you 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.  (See “How are body temperatures measured” for complete instructions.)

Many of the patients I see 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. This includes not just tender points, but fatigue, brain fog, unrestful sleep, irritable bowel syndrome, headaches, decreased memory and/or concentration, chemical sensitivities, and others. That’s because an underlying cause of all these symptoms is being addressed. Other causes can include adrenal exhaustion and nutritional deficiencies. These, too, affect your thyroid function.

See “List of Medical Providers” to find a doctor in your area who can help you use T3 to treat fibromyalgia.

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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  1. lorraine August 20, 2013 at 3:50 pm - Reply

    I had really hoped that T3 therapy would help my chronic myalgia, but after 3 months I developed scary irregular heart rhythms without any change in my pain. The rhythm disturbances ceased immediately after stopping the T3.

    • Dr. Denis Wilson August 21, 2013 at 3:58 am - Reply

      Yes, one challenge with T3 therapy is trying to keep the levels steady enough to avoid those kinds of complaints. There are things that can be done to minimize such complaints. In case you haven’t seen the Doctor’s Manual that explains some of them, here’s a link:

  2. Helen Nock July 27, 2014 at 9:07 am - Reply

    Re: Lorraine’s heart issues, my heart rate is more irregular and tending to palpitations when my metabolism is low, and had been throughout my FMS journey – low weak pulse, often uneven and temp rarely getting above 36. I have experienced sped up heart rate when my thyroid hormone dose is a wee bit too high….but I am getting used to adjusting to the two-step-forward-one-step-back part of this management. Ultimately, I now firmly believe that a significant number of people with FMS have T3 issues. I only started thyroid hormone when my blood tests became abnormal. I knew nothing about ranges then. Two years prior, during FMS my thyroid tests were coming back in normal range. I was only when I started to have additional symptoms and signs more obviously thyroid that I begged for another test. I often wonder if I could have saved myself all sorts of damage with T3.

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