Pain medications are amongst the most written prescriptions in the United States today. Both classes, the opiate analgesics and the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) medications have significant side effects and long term sequelae. There is a common, yet mainly overlooked condition that – once treated properly – can help to reduce and/or remove the need for pain medication.
The Connection Between Chronic Pain and Thyroid
There are pain syndromes that are associated with thyroid dysfunction. These include, neuropathies, arthritis, migraines, tension headaches, muscle pain and restless leg syndrome, among others.
According to Suzy Cohen at the Pain Relief Project,
Chronic pain causes a significant reduction in tissue levels of T3.
However the TSH levels will be normal. This is a critical connection that most clinicians have not made.
Additionally most conventional docs measure only the TSH and T4 in thyroid testing.
If you are in chronic pain you need to measure free T3 and reverse T3 in order to really see the thyroid hormone that is available to the cells. If this is not tested (and it usually is not) many cases of thyroid dysfunction will be missed.
Active thyroid hormone is T3 and this has to be addressed in order to alleviate the pain syndrome. If reverse T3 is high, that indicates that T4 is going down the wrong pathway and ends up taking up the receptors that would normally take up active T3.
If you are on pain killers, you need to request the full thyroid profile which should include the above tests.
According to Suzy Cohen (RPh) the pain medications will work better with a little thyroid hormone replacement if it is needed. The problem is, most doctors do not test and if they do test, they do not do the proper test – even endocrinologists.
Proper testing can lead to lowering the dose of pain medication needed and/or eliminating the need for pain medication at all.
According to Suzy Cohen, the most important tests are more than just TSH and T4. Here are some ranges that are considered normal.
- Free T3 should be between 3.5 – 4.3
- Total T3 should be 140-175
- TPO antibodies (autoimmunity) should be less than 20
- Reverse T3 should be less than 15 (if this is high, it is blocking the receptors from accepting free T3, which is the active form)
Consider thyroid medication and all the other adjunct therapies that go along with helping pain syndromes such as chiropractic, acupuncture, massage, etc.
Natural Options for Pain
Natural options for pain include, proteolytic enzymes, frankincense (boswellia), bromelain (pineapple extract) and malic acid (with magnesium). Follow an anti-inflammatory diet high in anti-oxidants, that is gluten, soy, dairy-free and night shade-free. Learn your food sensitivities and avoid them.
Eat foods high in folate as this supports the methylation cycle. The methylation cycle is critical for detoxifying and helps to dump poisons from the body. If it is disturbed then the toxins back up in your system and cause pain.
This is another critical issue that is commonly overlooked in conventional medicine in regard to pain. The person’s ability to detoxify is crucial to their level of pain.
Natural Thyroid Support
There are supplements that help support conversion of T4 to T3 (a common problem in pain and/or autoimmune syndromes). These include iodine, selenium, l-tyrosine and zinc.
Avoid processed soy, eat goitrogens (crucifer vegetables) in moderation and not raw. While some say that people with thyroid problems should not eat the so called goitrogens, Suzy Cohen explains that you would have to eat tons of them each day to affect the thyroid. Additionally, they are extremely high in anti-oxidants and anti-cancer compounds. Keep them in your diet but don’t eat them raw and eat them in moderation.
Thyroid Sick versus Hypothyroid
In this talk, Suzy Cohen gives the clearest explanation I have ever heard regarding someone who has a T4 to T3 conversion problem versus someone who is hypothyroid.
In a T4 to T3 conversion problem, the thyroid is actually working well and pumping out enough T4. However, that inactive form of the hormone is not getting into the cell where it is needed. The remedy is to give T3 either in a natural product or as the medication Cytomel.
In true hypothyroid the gland itself is not working and T4 will be low. You really should go listen to this talk!
You can hear this talk and so many more at the Pain Relief Project. This talk was sent immediately upon registration as a free gift! Get it today!
Before making any changes, ask you doctor if any of these supplements are right for you. You must ask your doctor to help you wean off any pain medications you are on. See disclaimer.
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