Thyroid autoimmune disease should be investigated in people who have fibromyalgia, says a new review of the evidence.
Fibromyalgia is a long-term condition that causes pain all over the body. Some of its other symptoms are similar to those experienced by people who have problems with their thyroid gland, including extreme tiredness, memory problems, depression and joint pain.
What is thyroid autoimmune disease?
Thyroid autoimmune disease (or autoimmune thyroiditis) is when the body interprets the thyroid glands and its hormones as threats. As a consequence, the body produces antibodies that target the thyroid’s cells.
Some studies have highlighted that autoimmune thyroid disease and higher levels of thyroid autoantibodies may be associated with fibromyalgia and widespread chronic pain.
What does the new research show?
Experts set out to look at the overall picture regarding fibromyalgia and thyroid autoimmunity. Analysing the evidence, they found that:
- People with fibromyalgia are more likely to have thyroid autoantibodies than healthy controls;
- Women with fibromyalgia who had thyroid autoantibodies were more likely to have been through menopause;
- The severity of fibromyalgia in terms of pain and fatigue level, disease duration and depression did not seem to be impacted by thyroid autoantibody positivity.
In the light of the new findings, it’s worth asking your GP to check your thyroid if you’ve been diagnosed with fibromyalgia:
“Thyroid autoimmunity should be considered in fibromyalgia patients,” advise the experts.