ADHD, Hypermobility, and Fibromyalgia

ADHD, Hypermobility, and Fibromyalgia – Exploring the Role of Neurodivergence in Pain Conditions

In recent years, researchers have delved into the intriguing links between ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), hypermobility, and fibromyalgia, uncovering a web of connections that sheds light on these seemingly disparate conditions.

Understanding Joint Hypermobility

Joint hypermobility, characterised by excessive joint mobility beyond the typical range, affects approximately 10% of the population. It is an umbrella term for a series of connective tissue disorders, including the most severe form – hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (hEDS). In the UK, hypermobility impacts around 10-20% of the population, with a smaller subset experiencing the more severe hEDS. Notably, a significant percentage of individuals with these conditions endure chronic widespread pain, significantly impairing their quality of life.

While many people with hypermobility lead perfectly normal lives, research suggests an increased susceptibility to bodily pain. The underlying mechanisms remain incompletely understood, but the ability to move joints extensively, often with diminished proprioception, may render tissues more vulnerable to injury, leading to overworked muscles, tendons, and ligaments, as well as micro-injuries to joint support structures.

Exploring the Connection with Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia, a complex syndrome characterized by widespread bodily pain, presents a significant overlap with hypermobility. Studies indicate that fibromyalgia patients are more than twice as likely to exhibit hypermobility compared to the general population. The condition’s hallmark symptom, amplified pain sensitivity in the brain’s pain processing regions, is believed to underpin the chronic aches and pains experienced by affected individuals.

Chronic pain, persisting for more than three months, can induce neuroplastic changes in the brain, leading to heightened pain sensitivity. Given the propensity of individuals with hypermobility to sustain recurrent, minor injuries, they may be at an increased risk of developing chronic pain and subsequent pain sensitisation, further exacerbating the symptoms associated with fibromyalgia.

The Link with ADHD and Neurodivergence

Recent research has extended the scope of inquiry to encompass neurodivergent conditions like ADHD, revealing intriguing connections with both hypermobility and fibromyalgia. Individuals with ADHD often exhibit sensory processing differences, and ADHD is associated with alterations in pain perception and processing, potentially exacerbating the symptomatology of fibromyalgia.

The links between ADHD, hypermobility, and fibromyalgia underscore the complex interplay between neurological, musculoskeletal, and pain processing systems. While the precise mechanisms remain subject to ongoing investigation, these insights offer valuable avenues for holistic management approaches aimed at addressing the multifaceted needs of individuals affected by these conditions.

Navigating Diagnostic Challenges and Treatment Pathways

Diagnosing hypermobility-related connective tissue disorders presents challenges due to their diverse symptomatology, which may include joint instability, fatigue, and mood disturbances. The complex interrelationships between ADHD, hypermobility, and fibromyalgia further complicate diagnostic efforts, necessitating comprehensive evaluation and tailored treatment strategies.

Specialised clinics, like Dr Stephanie Barrett’s RTMS London, offer expertise in addressing the complexities of these conditions, providing innovative neuromodulation treatments (rTMS), alongside holistic support and guidance. Their focus is on the pain accompanying hypermobility, HSD and hEDS, together with the fibromyalgia which sometimes results from these conditions. The non-invasive nature of the treatments means they can treat patients who either do not tolerate pain medication, or who have intractable pain despite medication. The awareness of all their staff with interlinked conditions such ADHD and PTSD makes them better suited to this complex patient group, as they can approach patients in a holistic way. For individuals navigating the intricacies of ADHD, hypermobility, and fibromyalgia, seeking specialised care can offer a path towards improved symptom management and enhanced quality of life.

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