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What is the association between Fibromyalgia and ADHD?

What is the association between Fibromyalgia and ADHD?

Researchers have discovered that there is an association between Fibromyalgia Syndrome and ADHD. When you consider the symptoms of both, and that Fibromyalgia is often linked to other conditions, it begins to make sense. The study findings are positive in that they can be used to improve the lives of those who suffer from Fibromyalgia and ADHD.

What is Fibromyalgia Syndrome?

Fibromyalgia Syndrome is a common chronic pain condition where a person suffers from widespread musculoskeletal pain and has fatigue, sleep, memory and mood issues. Also, when they are in pain, their sensations are amplified. The syndrome involves altered neurotransmitter activity. It is believed that Fibromyalgia Syndrome occurs after physical trauma, surgery, infection, significant psychological stress, or it can gradually worsen after a triggering event. More women than men are affected.

Linked to other conditions

Fibromyalgia Syndrome sometimes occurs alongside other conditions, such as: tension headaches, joint disorders, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, cystitis, anxiety and depression. Now researchers believe there is also a link between Fibromyalglia and adult Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Like Fibromyalgia, ADHD also involves impaired cognition and altered neurotransmitters.

Study finds link

The University of Pretoria in South Africa found some Fibromyalgia sufferers had extreme impaired cognition and inattention and wanted to investigate whether this was a co-occurring condition rather than just a symptom of the disease. Perhaps, as it was linked with other conditions, Fibromyalgia was linked to adult ADHD as well? Both conditions have problems with: thinking, remembering, focusing and sustaining attention.

Information about the study

The study involved 123 people from South Africa who had Fibromyalgia. They were screened for ADHD using the World Health Organisation ADHD Adult Self Report Scale. Participants also took a questionnaire about how Fibromyalgia impacts their life. The study found that for many participants, concentration and attention were more problematic for them than their chronic pain. They discovered that 45% of the study participants also had ADHD. Many doctors and researchers have overlooked the ADHD symptoms and attributed them to Fibromyalgia in the past.

Moving forward

These findings are good news for sufferers as they can be given strategies or treatments that are either organisational, cognitive or medical to assist them. There was a strong co-occurrence of adult ADHD and Fibromyalgia and this could impact the lifespan of sufferers. Researchers found that the participants who were identified as having ADHD found that their life was more adversely affected by their Fibromyalgia. Cognitive impairment was also found to be worse in the combined group (although it must be noted that it was self reported). It will be recommended that medical practitioners screen those with Fibromyalgia for ADHD because if it is discovered to occur with their condition, plans can be made accordingly to improve their quality of life.

Future studies should include a full clinical assessment of ADHD rather than a self reported diagnosis. Another element that needs to be investigated further is that an observational study found that ADHD patients who were experiencing chronic pain, found it lessened when they took their ADHD medication. This could be a positive for people with Fibromyalgia and ADHD as it could assist with those people’s musculoskeletal pain as well.

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