A Common, Undetected Condition that Underlies Chronic Pain

A Common, Undetected Condition that Underlies  Chronic Pain post image

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.

Thyroid Testing

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)

See more about thyroid testing in her book, Thyroid Healthy by Suzy Cohen and/or her website, SuzyCohen.com.

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!

Register here for the Pain Relief Project.

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.

If you would like to hear the interviews at your own pace you can purchase here.

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Leave a Comment

  • Brian January 23, 2015, 6:06 pm

    Great rundown of some common risk factors that can affect many people. Thanks for sharing.

  • Brenda @ The Well Fed Homestead January 25, 2015, 1:24 am

    Great article, Jill! I am wondering if having high thyroid antibodies but normal TSH and T4 means that a person would have low T3? You have me very curious, now!

    Thanks for posting this! 🙂

    • Jill January 25, 2015, 11:26 am

      Hi Brenda,
      You need to test for free T3 (and do a complete thyroid panel if antibodies are high).

  • Carol G January 27, 2015, 11:12 am

    I have Hashimoto’s and degenerating discs. In place of going the usual route of doing the crazy dance with the pain meds and resorting to a not so successful surgery I opted to find out why my body was not maintaining the integrity of the discs. Yes, I am dealing with a lot of excruciating pain so I limit my activities for now. I also found that I have kind of acclimated to my pain a bit.

    I am a firm believer of helping the body help itself. After watching one of Sean Croxton’s webinars I decided to seek a a functional nutritionist. I hit the jackpot because I found one who was also a chiropractor. After a long info seeking consult she wanted to test my adrenals. From my research that is what I was hoping for. She explained that she had seen a correlation between people that had both conditions and also having a adrenal function issue. Sure enough, my adrenals were at the beginning of full failure. She said that if we can get my adrenals back to functioning properly then my thyroid may follow suite. I figured that if my body was functioning properly there may be a chance that just maybe my body could also work on rebuilding the walls of my discs. Maybe, maybe not, but I felt it was worth the chance because of the undesirable alternatives I would face. I was told by a conventional doc that the disc were lost and there was nothing I could do besides surgery and pain management meds, but I do not take too much from conventional medicine as every time I have they seem to make the problems worse with their “prescribe a pill to mask the symptoms” mentality instead of finding a solution to correct the initial causes.

    It has been a year of taking natural adrenal support supplements and doing an elimination diet to nurture my adrenals (guided by blood testing to avoid any foods that created stimulus of my immune system.) I have lost 34 pounds and no longer have GERD symptoms. This is even in spite of the fact that I can do no physical activity and spent a lot of time in a chaise lounge chair or bed. We just did another saliva test and my adrenals are recovering great in some areas, but just a little in another and she wanted to see a better outcome there too so I just completed a week long liver detox and fast with vitamin and herbal support. I feel better and my body is beginning to work where I used to struggle. My BMs are daily and occasionally even twice a day and perfectly formed stools instead of the chronic constipation I suffered with most of my life. Looking at the symptoms of adrenal failure I can see most of my issues stems from this very issue.

    My long, drawn out point here is that there exists possible causes to your health issues that can be resolve via diet changes. I no longer eat sugar or gluten and have added back all of the satiating, healthy fats back to my diet that I avoided trying to loose weight. I would say even if this quest does not resolve my back issues, it sure has helped my body function so much better. Win-win. Since I have seen some improvement I will continue on until my body is functioning up to par before I write off its ability to heal my back issues. Where I had pain all of the time, I only feel it now when I venture out a couple of times a week and over do it. I am good for about an hour of activity at a time before needing to rest I between so I make the best of it sometimes overdoing it. Oh well. I keep a positive attitude and avoid indulging into the pity parties which is half of the battle with chronic pain. Do not give up and go against what you do not want. Do your research and keep a positive attitude.

    • Jill January 27, 2015, 11:32 am

      Hi Carol G,
      Thank you so much for sharing and articulating what can happen when the true cause of a health problem is addressed. It’s so easy to fall into the pain management trap. It takes someone who really believes in alternative/functional medicine to stick it out. Those who do, usually find improvements in other unexpected areas as you have. Good luck!

      • Carol G January 27, 2015, 11:55 am

        Thank you! I have learned an I credible amount from your blog and thank you for the time from your busy schedule for it.