Hypothyroidism: Unusual Source of Muscle Pain
Modern medicine is interesting in a way, not least because of how much it has grown over the decades and even centuries but because of how it continues to grow. These days, there is a lot we already have come to be able to know about our bodies, in scales large and small. However, science is still making discoveries, resulting in certain maladies being addressed with more and more precise medication, the root causes of some others being pinpointed with greater accuracy than ever before, and more developments that allow us to understand the mechanics of biology when it works right and when it struggles.
For instance, fibromyalgia is something that has afflicted people for quite
some time. Also known as fibrosis, fibromytosis and myofibrositis, this disorder is mainly manifested as musculoskeletal pain spread across body parts, bringing with it fatigue, sleep disruption, and knee-painissues with mood and memory. Research would suggest that the physical symptoms may arise from a variety of factors, including a problem with the way that one’s brain manages pain signals. This is mirrored in the cases where symptoms start to show up when a person recovers from a physical trauma, which may include infection, surgery, or even psychological distress. However, other cases show symptoms manifesting without any clear triggering incident or factor. What is known, however, is that women appear to be more likely to develop it than men, and that fibromyalgia appears to appear in conjunction with temporomandibular joint disorders, tension headaches, irritable bowel syndrome, depression, and anxiety.
- Fibromyalgia sufferers typically complain of waking up tired even after a good amount of rest. This is because sleep can be disrupted considerably by pain, and also because fibromyalgia can come alongside other disorders that might disrupt sleep, like restless leg syndrome or even sleep apnea.
- Widespread pain. The “dull ache” (widespread, in this case, meaning it affects both sides of the body above and below the waistline) that is felt from fibromyalgia pain can last for at least three months. Pain can manifest in the hips, above and below the buttocks, in the knees and patella area, shoulder blades, neck and elbows.
- Insomnia, problems falling asleep, frequent waking during sleep
- Cognitive issues. Referred to as “fibro fog”, this symptom is seen in difficulty focusing on things, pay attention to tasks, and concentrate.
- Additional problems, like cramping, headaches, and depression.
The symptoms of fibromyalgia are troubling enough, but these can combine to cause a domino effect of further difficulties. For one thing, a person can suffer from accumulated loss of sleep and clarity due to the pain-related disruption and “fibro fog” that can cloud one’s focus. This, as well as the constant fatigue and heightened sensitivity to pain, can lead to anxiety and depression.
Why does fibromyalgia affect us with this amount and type of pain and discomfort?
Research seems to point toward a change in the brain, with an abnormal rise in the number of certain chemicals in our neurotransmitters. Compounding this, the brain’s pain receptors become more sensitive to pain, appearing to harbor an imprinted memory of earlier pain and thus overreacting to later pain signals. There are many risk factors that, if present, could make one more susceptible to fibromyalgia as well. These include a genetic propensity toward it that might be inherited, infections that might serve to trigger fibromyalgia or increase the intensity of symptoms, and the onset of rheumatic diseases, such as lupus.
The main cause of fibromyalgia has yet to be conclusively identified, but functional medicine practitioners notice patterns emerging from the many fibromyalgia patients they treat. There are certain commonalities and overlaps that seem to suggest origin points.
- Gluten intolerance
It’s interesting to note that gluten has been linked to more than 50 diseases. There is some overlap between gluten consumption and difficulty with those diseases, because the symptoms seen here are actually not digestive in nature but neurological. This includes pain, sleep disturbance, depression, fatigue, behavioral problems, and cognitive problems.
- Candida overgrowth
Too much candida (a yeast) in the intestines can lead to the unpleasant effect of intestinal wall breakdown, leading to candida in the bloodstream. The toxic byproducts that course through your body, as a result, can lead to symptoms associated with fibromyalgia, including the fibro fog, pain, and digestive problems.
- Adrenal fatigue
Chronic stress leads to adrenal fatigue, which can lead to symptoms associated with fibromyalgia manifesting. The initial trigger of the chronic stress can be anything from vitamin deficiencies, candida overgrowth, or even intolerance to foods like gluten
- Vitamin deficiencies
Fibromyalgia patients tend to be deficient in vitamin D, magnesium, and vitamin B12. Some have even been seen to reverse their symptoms with magnesium.
- Thyroid issues, including hypothyroidism
One theory behind the cause of fibromyalgia suggests a problem with thyroid hormone deficiency. Blood markers like TSH, Free T3, Free T4, Reverse T3, Thyroglobulin antibodies and Thyroid Peroxidase antibodies should be checked. Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) causes a deficiency in thyroid hormones, and autoimmune hypothyroidism has been shown to commonly lead to symptoms associated with fibromyalgia, such as sleep disturbances and muscle pain. Figures show that up to 15% of hypothyroidism patients will eventually develop fibromyalgia, partly because the hormone serotonin is affected by the condition of the thyroid hormone, and serotonin is one of the hormones that plays a role in developing fibromyalgia. Furthermore, the thyroid hormone is partly responsible for regulating a person’s sleep cycle, and so there may be a link between lower-than-normal production of this hormone and the easily-disrupted sleep cycle associated with fibromyalgia.
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