Identifying Syndrome Causes

FMS, CFS, and HAIT: they look like the degrees after an individual's name, but really what they represent are three conditions that are often misdiagnosed and even more regularly, confused for one another. As a result, many sufferers of chronic pain, fatigue, weight-gain and depression are told they have one condition when, in fact, it may be something else. There are tests for FMS (fibromyalgia syndrome) and HAIT (Hashimoto's autoimmune thyroid disease) but none for CFS, (chronic fatigue syndrome). Yet even with the tests, some doctors fail to make the connections.

CFS - chronic fatigue syndrome is characterized by unrelenting fatigue, so much so, that even the least amount of physical exertion can lay a person up for days. Since there is no specific test for CFS, a doctor will usually come to the diagnosis through a process of elimination of other underlying possibilities.

FMS - fibromyalgia syndrome is a central nervous system disorder in which the person experiences chronic, serious pain without letup. Many other symptoms accompany FMS such as cognitive dysfunction, GI problems, sleeplessness and fatigue. Because there are so many similar overlapping symptoms with FMS, it can take years to obtain an accurate diagnosis. One of the main ways of determining FMS is with the 18 point "tender point" examination.

HAIT - Hashimoto's autoimmune thyroid disease is a condition in which the thyroid fails to produce sufficient thyroid hormone to regulate the metabolism. Fatigue, depression, join pain, infertility and many other symptoms accompany this disease. Diagnosis is usually made through the TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) test as well as other thyroid tests.

Since all three conditions present similarly, the concern for a misdiagnosis is always present. However, it is interesting to note that in many cases, FMS and CFS are not acknowledged in the mix. On top of that, HAIT may go undiagnosed because many doctors fail to use the tests available and fail to recognize the obvious signs of the disease; as is the case when a woman suffering with HAIT or FMS may be told the problems are stress, hormonal, menopausal or post-partum depression.

HAIT is an autoimmune disease. The causes of FMS and CFS are not established, however, there is research indicating that there may be a strong underlying autoimmune component to both FMS and CFS. It may be that all three conditions are borne of the same problems. The Journal of Clinical Investigations reported research that indicates chronic fatigue syndrome has a definite autoimmune element and that more than half of chronic fatigue syndrome patients develop auto-antibodies that indicate autoimmune reactions.

Thyroid Function and Fibromyalgia

In 1997, Dr. John Lowe, one of America's pioneers in fibromyalgia research, reported in the Clinical Bulletin of Myofascial Therapy, that he found clear relationships between thyroid function and fibromyalgia, and believes that some form of hypometabolism, including thyroid dysfunction, may in part explain the disorder.

Dr. Lowe ran thyroid tests on a group of patients with confirmed diagnosis of FMS. The people with elevated thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) were not tested beyond the TSH test. Others, who had normal TSH levels, were given a thyrotropin releasing hormone (TRH) stimulation test. The results indicated that:

· 10.5% of FM patients had primary hypothyroidism

· 36.8% were in normal thyroid state

· 52.6% (tested with TRH) had results consistent with central hypothyroidism.

The overall results of the tests showed that 64% of fibromyalgia patients had thyroid hormone deficiencies. The level of primary hypothyroidism that is found in fibromyalgia syndrome patients exceeds what is found in the general population by 10.5%.

Treating Fibromyalgia with Thyroid Hormone

In treating FMS, Dr. Lowe emphasizes including T3 thyroid hormone in the treatment. Other doctors use different treatments for hypothyroid symptoms including levothyroxine sodium (standard thyroid replacement) and thyroid replacement along with the animal-derived glandular Thyrosine Complex, tyrosine, vitamin C and B complex, grape seed extract, magnesium, and the Chinese herb astragalus.

New connections and possibilities concerning fibromyalgia syndrome appear often. We do our best to keep up with the findings. Learn more about this condition, the symptoms, possible treatments and ways of coping in other places on this site.

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I have so much fatigue with the FMS along with a 50 lb weight gain that I always believed that I have a thyroid problem. I think I will ask my rheumatologist to do the TRH test on me and see what comes up. I have had every doctor I have seen to do the TSH on me because I have so many of the symptoms of thyroid problems but they never go further with the other test. It could help me if I do have this problem.