Fibromyalgia and ADHD
If you have fibromyalgia, the doctor may want to test you for attention hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or attention deficit.
That’s the idea from a report delivered at the April 2018 American Pain Management Academy’s annual meeting. In addition, it found a surprisingly high co-occurrence rate of these conditions.
Link in Fibromyalgia and Chronic Pain
The syndrome of fibromyalgia (FMS) is a chronic pain condition. It’s linked to musculoskeletal pain. In addition, there are other symptoms such as chronic fatigue, sleeping problems, dizziness, light sensitivity.
In addition, many people have problems with thinking or remembering as well. A symptom called “fibro fog.”
Fibromyalgia and Diseases
Fibromyalgia is not well understood, but one thing researchers know is that other medical conditions often accompany it. In addition, depression, anxiety, interstitial cystitis (a condition of the bladder) and irritable bowel syndrome are known.
That’s where the study comes in. Researchers at Pretoria University in South Africa started to notice that some people with fibromyalgia were suffering from extreme symptoms of diminished memory and inattention.
Roland van Rensburg, a university physician, wondered if those people with fibromyalgia who had more extreme symptoms of fibro-fog could have undiagnosed ADHD.
“Patients have issues with learning, recalling, concentrating, or sustaining concentration in both cases, which is generally referred to as dis-cognition or cognitive impairment,” he says.
Study of Fibro-ADHD
More than 100 individuals with fibromyalgia have been tested for adult ADH in this study. In addition, the World Health Organization (WHO) created a screening questionnaire. The following questions are also included in the items on this 18-question screening tool:
- How often do you miss carelessly while working on a dull or demanding project?
- How often are you having trouble finding things at home or at work?
- So How often do you stop or postpone getting started when you have a task that requires a lot of thought?
Participants also had an evaluation of their cognition. In fact, almost half of the participants had both factors.
What the researchers found to be promising is that a staggering 45% of individuals with fibromyalgia are testing for adult ADHD.
Most of the individuals with ADHD realized they had a disorder at some point. In addition, they reported higher numbers of cognitive impairment than those without the accompanying condition.
In fact, the results of this study were also published in November 2017 in the journal Pain Medicine.
Link Between Diseases
It is likely that the connection between the two diseases can be found in the underlying brain dysfunction that appears to cause each condition.
“FMS seems to be caused by neurotransmitter dysregulation, primarily dopamine and serotonin. In addition, these neurotransmitter abnormalities are also involved in the development of ADHD, “explains Dr. van Rensburg. “The link between the two appears to lie in the underlying neurotransmitter problems.”
Symptoms of these Conditions
The concentration and attention issues that can be a big deal for patients, say the researchers, for people with both of these conditions. In addition, they note in the study that these issues are sometimes more disabled than the chronic pain. In addition, they say, many doctors and researchers tend to ignore these symptoms.
Screening Test for Diseases
The authors suggest that you should be tested for adult ADHD if you have fibromyalgia. “The significant impact of probable adult ADHD… suggests that all FMS patients should be tested for adult comorbid ADHD,” concludes the report.
So in addition, the WHO screening questionnaire can be administered by your primary care provider. In addition, if you test positive, a neurologist or psychiatrist will evaluate you before you receive a formal diagnosis.
Helping Strategies and Treatments
There are methods that adults with ADHD can use to cope for some of their cognitive issues, according to the non-profit organization Children and Adults with Attention-Hyperactivity Disorder. For fact, some of these include arranging the office regularly to reduce disturbances. In addition, to divide each task into smaller steps and to reward yourself when you complete each.
Adults with ADHD often benefit from cognitive behavioral therapy or from hiring a personal coach to help set goals that can be managed.
Drugs like stimulants or antidepressants can also help with ADHD. Several case studies indicate that in addition to reducing mental effects, the psychostimulant (methylphenidate) often seems to support fibromyalgia pain. In fact, clinical trials are required to confirm it, but you may want to discuss this medication with your doctor.