Years before I started focusing my practice on thyroid conditions, I saw a lot of people who had fibromyalgia. In fact, many years ago I even held regular fibromyalgia workshops, and had a naturopathic physician on staff to assist me with people who had this condition. Actually, before I hired the naturopathic doctor I treated fibromyalgia patients on my own, with very little success. While some patients would experience temporarily pain relief, many patients wouldn’t experience any significant changes in their symptoms.
Upon hiring the naturopathic physician the results improved greatly, and I definitely learned a lot from her. We were definitely helping a greater number of people with fibromyalgia working together. And once she left the practice to pursue other endeavors, I incorporated many of the things she taught me, which once again helped a great deal with people who had fibromyalgia, along with other conditions. However, there still seemed to be something missing, as I felt there was still much room for improvement with regards to helping these people.
It wasn’t until I was diagnosed with an autoimmune thyroid disorder until I was able to gain a greater appreciation for what people with fibromyalgia go through. Of course fibromyalgia and Graves’ Disease are two separate conditions, and while it was tough being diagnosed with Graves and dealing with the symptoms, I think it’s safe to say that many people who have fibromyalgia have far worse symptoms, even though they aren’t life threatening like hyperthyroid symptoms can be at times. In any case, upon being diagnosed with Graves’ Disease and then helping other people with thyroid and autoimmune thyroid conditions, I realized there were many factors involved in restoring a person’s health back to normal.
The Similarities Between Fibromyalgia And Thyroid Conditions
So even though fibromyalgia is a different condition than either hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism, there are numerous similarities between these conditions. Here are just a few of them:
Similarity #1: They Share Some Of The Same Symptoms. This is especially true when comparing hypothyroidism with fibromyalgia, as many people with both of these conditions experience symptoms such as fatigue, brain fog, and depression. While there are many different symptoms associated with fibromyalgia, the primary three seem to be severe fatigue, brain fog, and muscle and joint pain, which sometimes can be quite severe. As I just mentioned, many people with hypothyroidism (and even some with hyperthyroidism) experience the fatigue and brain fog, and while some do experience muscle and joint pain, it usually isn’t as severe as it is in a person who has fibromyalgia.
Similarity #2: You Can’t Rely On Blood Tests Alone. With fibromyalgia, the blood tests are frequently negative. With a thyroid condition this is sometimes true, and many times you can’t rely completely on positive thyroid blood tests. And even when the thyroid blood tests are accurate, they don’t tell us anything about the underlying cause of the condition. As a result, other tests are usually necessary to help the doctor find the actual cause of the disorder. I’ve mentioned these tests in other articles, as there’s the Adrenal Stress Index test to help determine the health of the adrenal glands, a male or female hormone panel to determine if there are any hormone imbalances, and a hair mineral analysis to detect any mineral imbalances.
Similarity #3: The Adrenal Glands Are Usually Compromised. Most people with fibromyalgia and thyroid conditions have problems with their adrenal glands. This usually takes time to develop, as usually years of eating many refined foods and sugars, getting insufficient sleep, and/or doing a poor job of managing stress can lead to weakened adrenal glands. As mentioned above, this can be detected through an Adrenal Stress Index test, which measures the cortisol levels according to the circadian pattern. If someone with fibromyalgia or a thyroid condition has weak adrenal glands, this problem needs to be addressed if there is any chance of restoring their health back to normal.
Similarity #4: A Hormone Imbalance Is Common. Just like many people with fibromyalgia and thyroid conditions have adrenal issues, many of these people also have a hormone imbalance which can contribute to their condition. For example, in past articles I’ve spoken about a common condition called estrogen dominance, which involves an imbalance in the hormones estrogen and progesterone. This can involve an excess in estrogen, but usually involves a deficiency in progesterone. In any case, this can be causing a lot of problems, and can contribute to many of the symptoms associated with fibromyalgia and thyroid conditions. And just as is the case with weak adrenals, any existing hormone imbalance will need to be corrected in order to restore the health of someone with fibromyalgia or a thyroid condition.
In addition to estrogen and progesterone, imbalances in other hormones can also be causing or contributing to their condition. For this reason it might be necessary to obtain a hormone panel to determine if there is an imbalance, and if so, to find out which hormones are involved. This of course will help the doctor to put together the necessary protocol to help correct this hormone imbalance. Sometimes this involves giving natural progesterone, although many times this can be accomplished without giving the patient bioidentical hormones.
Similarity #5: Modifying Lifestyle Factors Is Important. I have spoken about the importance of modifying lifestyle factors many times in other articles and blog posts. While many people are looking for a “magic” pill or supplement to take in order to eliminate their symptoms and restore their health, in most cases it takes dramatic changes in one’s lifestyle to restore someone’s health back to normal. So in order to cure either fibromyalgia or restore the health of someone with any thyroid or autoimmune thyroid condition, the person will need to take responsibility for their own health, and make sure they eat well, get sufficient sleep, exercise regularly, and do a good job of managing the stress in their life.
Many people aren’t willing to make this sacrifice, as it admittedly isn’t easy to follow a natural treatment protocol to restore their health. But most people who do follow through with this find that it’s well worth it. I find that many people with fibromyalgia are willing to follow such a protocol because most people with this condition experience severe pain and debilitating fatigue, and on average the symptoms are worse than people with thyroid conditions.
Also, for both fibromyalgia and thyroid conditions it is wise to consult with a competent endocrine doctor. Many people attempt to self-treat these conditions, but these conditions are so complex that it is extremely difficult to achieve maximum results on your own. This is especially true with regards to fibromyalgia, but even with conditions such as hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism it’s wise to speak with an expert. Obviously there are numerous things you can do on your own with regards to modifying certain lifestyle factors, which can help a great deal. But as mentioned above, there are also additional tests you may need to help find the underlying cause of the condition, and then you probably will need to take certain nutritional supplements and/or herbs to help address this problem.
For example, as mentioned earlier, many people with fibromyalgia and thyroid conditions have compromised adrenals. And some of these people are actually in a state of severe adrenal fatigue or exhaustion. Someone who has this condition will be able to modify certain lifestyle factors which can help improve their condition, but in order to correct the adrenal problem they will need to do more than just eating well, getting quality sleep, etc. They will most likely need to follow a strict natural treatment protocol which definitely involves modifying certain lifestyle factors, but also will require them to take specific nutritional supplements and herbs. And if there is an underlying hormone imbalance, which is frequently the case, this will also need to be detected and then corrected. So hopefully you can see how complex of a process this is. Truth to be told, it is challenging enough to restore your health under the guidance of a competent doctor. As a result, you can imagine how difficult a process this is to address on your own.
For People Who Have Both Fibromyalgia And A Thyroid Condition
There are many people who have both fibromyalgia AND a thyroid condition. For these people, the process is typically the same, as the goal will be to find the underlying cause of these conditions through the necessary testing (Adrenal Stress Index, Hormone Panel, Hair Analysis, tests for nutritional deficiencies, etc.), and then address these causes as necessary. I’ve consulted with people who had fibromyalgia who were taking over one dozen medications. And in many of these cases the medication did a poor job of managing their symptoms. This isn’t meant to criticize anyone who takes prescription drugs to manage the pain and other symptoms, but for those taking numerous medications and are still feeling terrible, following a natural treatment protocol just may be the answer of getting your life back.
In summary, it’s definitely possible to restore the health of someone with fibromyalgia, as well as many people who have thyroid and autoimmune thyroid conditions. But one must first detect the cause of these conditions, and then take the necessary measures to restore the person’s health back to normal. Doing this will take a great deal of time and commitment on the person’s part, but if it means there is a possibility of restoring their health back to normal then most people find this “sacrifice” well worth it.
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