Human Growth Hormone Deficiency and Fibromyalgia?

Young Woman who got Human Growth Hormone Deficiency suffering back ache due to Fibromyalgia and complaining sitting on a couch in the living room at home

Hormones play a key role in our health and are crucial for our body to function properly. Our body and organs cannot operate well when there’s reduced or insufficient hormones, thus creating an imbalance that causes health issues, both physical and mental.

What Is Human Growth Hormone?

Human Growth Hormone (hGH), also called somatotropin, is produced in the anterior pituitary gland, which holds major processes in the body involving metabolism and growth. hGH stimulates growth in children as well as adolescents and regulates fat & sugar metabolism, bone strength, muscle growth, body fluids, and body composition.

Doctors have now considered the human growth hormone as a regulator of growth in children. Its definite cause is still ambiguous for the doctors, but it is mainly caused by lowering the hormone level of growth. Growth hormone deficiency is linked with muscle weakness, low magnesium, lower energy level, weakened ability of thinking, low thyroid hormone, and cold sensitivity, which is commonly observed in people suffering from fibromyalgia. Due to their multiple comorbidities, they are a little difficult for doctors to detect.

What Is Fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia is a chronic disorder, which results in pain in the whole body, with joints and muscles, leading to stiffness. It mainly affects women who experience intensified tender points in their bodies. Such areas are sensitive to soft touch, like mild pressure of clothing.

Symptoms Of Fibromyalgia:

Common symptoms observed in patients with fibromyalgia include:

1. Fatigue:

Portrait of young woman with illness symptom

People who are suffering from fibromyalgia feel tired and don’t feel relaxed all the time. This symptom is also observed if the patients have slept for a long time. These patients find difficulty in falling asleep as well as staying asleep. They are reportedly observed as having sleep apnea or legs restless syndrome.

Insufficient sleep causes body aches and increased pain in fibromyalgia patients, which results in “fibro fog or brain fog.” The possible outcomes include difficulty concentrating, poor cognitive functions, and restlessness.

2. Cognitive Difficulties:

A person with fibromyalgia can also face cognitive difficulty, which is referred to as a ‘fibro fog’ that impairs the capability to focus on daily tasks and retain information.

It might be existing with other diseases, such as:

  • Chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Depression
  • Migraine
  • Anxiety
  • Painful bladder syndrome
  • Postural tachycardia syndrome

3. Pain:

Young woman having knee pain

In fibromyalgia, the patients experience pain as their tendons, muscles, and ligaments are swollen. It is a constant ache, occurring at both sides of the body, including above and below the waist. Tingling, numbness, and needle sensation in muscles is also a symptom of fibromyalgia.

4. Some Other Symptoms:

Apart from fibromyalgia’s main symptoms, patients can also experience severe menstrual cramps, tension headaches, migraine, and Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS). Digestive problems, such as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), also contribute to fibromyalgia. Ringing in the ears, jaw pain, facial pain, jaw clicking are some uncommon symptoms of fibromyalgia.

Causes Of Fibromyalgia:

Doctors may get confused by fibromyalgia symptoms because numerous reasons can cause body pain. Moreover, different patients report varying things that trigger pain in their bodies. Some of the most common factors of fibromyalgia include:

1. Genetic Factors:

Fibromyalgia can be caused by some inherited reasons, to be running in families. The genes responsible for high pain sensitivity can be transferred from your parents. Moreover, if you suffer from depression or anxiety, this can aggravate your condition and worsen the pain.

2. Other Diseases:

Sometimes, an individual is already suffering from a disease, like arthritis, which increases the chances of fibromyalgia in patients. There are certain infections that can aggravate the effect of fibromyalgia, like influenza, Epstein-Barr virus, hepatitis B and C.

3. Emotional Abuse:

Children are more likely to develop fibromyalgia when they are abused. A physically and emotionally abusive environment makes mentally unwell and provokes constant thoughts of unhealthy things, such as stress, anxiety, or pain. In this condition, abuse weakens their mental capacity to handle pain or stress, increasing with age.

4. Gender:

Fibromyalgia manifests in women more often because the ways of perceiving a stressful situation are different in men and women. They respond in diverse ways. Sex hormones, such as estrogen deficiencies have been shown to increase pain sensitivity in women with fibromyalgia. 

5. Depression And Anxiety:

Depressed and sadness woman crying alone at home

Depression, tension, and anxiety have also been associated with fibromyalgia. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is also a contributing factor in fibromyalgia, severely affecting mental health. 

6. Physical Inactivity: 

People with a sedentary lifestyle are more susceptible to fibromyalgia. If your daily routine lacks any kind of exercise, it will take a toll on your physical and mental strength, which affects the sensitivity of pain in your body.  

Low hGH Levels In Patients With Fibromyalgia:

It is usually considered that human growth hormone (hGH) is essential for the growth and development of children. However, hGH is also important in the adult population with a certain medical condition, but its presence is overlooked in many diseases, such as fibromyalgia. 

While managing the symptoms of fibromyalgia, many doctors do not check the levels of hGH in patients. According to a new research study, fibromyalgia has been associated with a surprising percentage of low hGH levels. The reason for ignoring the low levels of hGH is that hGH deficiency results from head trauma or pituitary tumor because the anterior pituitary gland produces it. 

About 1 in 3 patients with fibromyalgia syndrome have hGH deficiency, which is the most prevailing factor in patients taking medications for fibromyalgia. 

Why Is hGH Overlooked In The Management Of Fibromyalgia?

Patients with fibromyalgia are difficult to treat because of a number of reasons, among which are multiple comorbidities, including hGH deficiency, low magnesium levels, and low thyroid hormone. 

Human growth hormone (hGH) is an essential physiologic factor that promotes cellular uptake of amino acids and synthesis of proteins. Therefore, many health issues are linked with low levels of hGH, such as chronic pain, atypical depression, sensitivity to cold, fatigue, and impaired cognitive functioning. All these symptoms of hGH deficiency are synonymous with those of fibromyalgia syndrome. 

Currently, fibromyalgia is treated with 3 FDA-approved drugs:

  • Milnacipran (Savella; Allergan)
  • Pregabalin (Lyrica; Pfizer Inc.)
  • Duloxetine (Cymbalta; Eli Lilly & Company)

These medications do not prove to be beneficial for treating patients with fibromyalgia. Antidepressants have side effects, such as weight gain, and still experience symptoms like depression, chronic pain, and anxiety. Moreover, healthcare practitioners do not check the serum levels for hGH in patients with fibromyalgia. 

Hormone Replacement Therapy In Fibromyalgia Patients:

Close-up of a person's hand taking pills with glass of water on white backdrop

Fibromyalgia is a difficult condition to treat. The key approach is to control the underlying comorbidities. If we can reverse or treat the comorbidities like hGH deficiency, fibromyalgia can be efficiently controlled. 

Hormone replacement therapy has proved to be very effective in treating hGH deficiency, thus yielding positive results. Hormone replacement therapy plays a vital role in significantly improving the prognosis of fibromyalgia patients. 

Patients start noticing positive results of hormone replacement therapy within the initial months of use, for example, increased muscle strength, high propensity for exercise, improved mood, and increased energy. When hormone replacement therapy is properly continued, a few patients observe the rare adverse effects. Only 5-7% of patients can experience severe muscle pains (myalgia). In this case, hormone replacement therapy must be abandoned. However, this occurs for only a few weeks and does not show any side effects in patients already undergoing replacement therapy. 

Some patients may experience increased blood sugar levels, which provides increased strength for physical activities, such as exercise. Blood sugar levels automatically drop when a patient indulges in physical activities, followed by increased muscle mass and fat loss. 

It is important for doctors and practitioners to check for hGH deficiency in patients with fibromyalgia syndrome. Serum levels of human growth hormones must also be checked to confirm whether a patient needs hormone replacement therapy or not. 

Bottomline

It is important to have a sound body and mind in order to enjoy the true colors of life. Living with fibromyalgia is very tricky. This condition is also very hard to diagnose and treat because of complex combinations of clinical symptoms. Women are more susceptible to fibromyalgia syndrome compared to men. Sex hormones, such as estrogen deficiencies, causes increased sensitivity to pain – one of the main symptoms of fibromyalgia. 

Low serum levels of hGH have been proved to be the reason for fibromyalgia. Growth hormone deficiency can be improved with hormone replacement therapy with amazing results.

References:

  1. Cuatrecasas G, Gonzalez MJ, Alegre C, Sesmilo G, Fernandez-Solà J, Casanueva FF, Garcia-Fructuoso F, Poca-Dias V, Izquierdo JP, Puig-Domingo M. High prevalence of growth hormone deficiency in severe fibromyalgia syndromes. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2010 Sep;95(9):4331-7. doi: 10.1210/jc.2010-0061. Epub 2010 Jul 14. PMID: 20631018.
  2. Rigamonti A, Grugni G, Arreghini M, Capodaglio P, De Col A, Agosti F et al. GH Responsiveness to Combined GH-Releasing Hormone and Arginine Administration in Obese Patients with Fibromyalgia Syndrome. International Journal of Endocrinology. 2017;2017:1-6.
  3. Bennett RM, Clark SR, Campbell SM, Burckhardt CS. Low levels of somatomedin C in patients with fibromyalgia syndrome. A possible link between sleep and muscle pain. Arthritis Rheum. 1992 Oct;35(10):1113-6. doi: 10.1002/art.1780351002. PMID: 1418002.
  4. Jones KD, Deodhar P, Lorentzen A, Bennett RM, Deodhar AA. Growth hormone perturbations in fibromyalgia: a review. Semin Arthritis Rheum. 2007 Jun;36(6):357-79. doi: 10.1016/j.semarthrit.2006.09.006. Epub 2007 Jan 16. PMID: 17224178.
  5. Díez J, Sangiao-Alvarellos S, Cordido F. Treatment with Growth Hormone for Adults with Growth Hormone Deficiency Syndrome: Benefits and Risks. International Journal of Molecular Sciences. 2018;19(3):893.
  6. Restless Legs Syndrome Fact Sheet https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/Patient-Caregiver-Education/Fact-Sheets/Restless-Legs-Syndrome-Fact-Sheet
  7. Thomas G. Ciccone. Prevalence of Growth Hormone Deficiency in Fibromylagia. https://www.practicalpainmanagement.com/meeting-summary/prevalence-growth-hormone-deficiency-fibromyalgia
  8. Growth Hormone Eases Fibromyalgia pain. https://www.webmd.com/fibromyalgia/news/20020627/growth-hormone-eases-fibromyalgia-pain#1
  9. Women and Fibromyalgia: What the Research Says https://humanhealthproject.org/women-and-fibromyalgia-what-the-research-says/
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