Fibromyalgia, Hypothyroidism, and Menopause
I know I may anger some women who suffer with fibromyalgia when I say this. But, in spite of my own diagnosis last year, I don’t believe it’s a real condition. I’ve said it before, and I’ve jokingly referred to it as the “non-disease” with very real symptoms.
The fatigue and generalized aches and pain associated with fibromyalgia are real. I experience them every day. But, still, fibromyalgia remains a catch-all term slapped on a “syndrome” which has no discernable, or medically verifiable existence.
Yet, according to the U.S. Center for Disease Control nearly 2 percent of the population have been diagnosed with or suffer from fibromyalgia. The National Fibromyalgia Association says there are approximately 10 million people (mostly women, by the way) which suffer with it. And, the ladies in a Facebook Fibromyalgia group, of which I am a member, will also tell you it’s very real.
However, according to Dr. Steven F. Hotze, M.D., author of the book, Hypothyroidism, Health & Happiness: The Riddle of Illness Revealed, many of the symptoms of fibromyalgia (and chronic fatigue syndrome) overlap with the symptoms of hypothyroidism.
It should also be noted, as I’ve written before, a large number of diagnoses of fibromyalgia are among women in menopause. In addition, hypothyroidism is also a very common, secondary condition, which women in perimenopause and menopause suffer from as well.
Dr. Hotze believes (and frankly, I tend to think he’s right) that such high numbers of diagnoses of fibromyalgia among perimenopausal and menopausal women is due to high numbers of un-diagnosed cases of hypothyroidism. Furthermore, Dr. Hotze states that pharmaceutical companies have a vested financial interest in promoting these “syndromes” because they have the drugs and medications to treat them.
I realize this is not exactly an explosive or shocking claim by Dr. Hotze. We all know that pharmaceutical companies would rather that we are all stricken with something that can be treated with their drugs. No news there, right?
I’m just interested in the fact that, by and large, it is women who are around perimenopausal and menopausal age that are routinely diagnosed with fibromyalgia (moi included). These women might also be suffering with some kind of thyroid dysfunction as a result of perimenopause and menopause.
So call me a conspiracy theorist, but I remain completely mystified that these very obvious connections, which can be documented and verified with medical research, are largely ignored by the medical community.
Fortunately, Dr. Hotze is not the only physician or medical professional trying to address these issues. It’s breaking through the conventions and systems which are highly resistant to change, or new ways of thinking about diagnoses and conditions, that is the bigger problem.
While I’m certainly not out to strip anyone of their belief they are suffering with fibromyalgia, I do think it’s worth giving consideration to the fact that other conditions could very well be the culprit. Especially if you are a woman going through perimenopause. I would also highly recommend Dr. Hotze’s book if you would like to read more about fibromyalgia and hypothyroidism.
Magnolia Miller is a certified healthcare consumer advocate in women's health and a women's freelance health writer and blogger at The Perimenopause Blog.