ADHD and Chronic Pain

A number of studies over the past several years have suggested that certain types of chronic pain and ADHD may be highly correlated. In fact, one study found that 37.8% of people experiencing widespread centralized chronic pain were found to also have ADHD.

In particular, researchers have found that adult patients with fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS) have a higher co-occurrence of ADHD. FMS is a type of chronic pain disorder whose symptoms may include musculoskeletal pain, chronic fatigue, sleep disturbance, and cognitive impairment. Cognitive impairment may include difficulty with concentration and attention, forgetfulness, and problems with word-finding and word fluency. Patients with FMS frequently report that this cognitive impairment may often be more disabling than the chronic pain they experience.

The underlying mechanism for both FMS and ADHD may have to do with altered activity in neurotransmitters such as dopamine, serotonin, and noradrenaline. Other medical conditions that often co-occur with FMS and ADHD include depression, anxiety, interstitial cystitis (a bladder condition), and irritable bowel syndrome.

There is some indication that medications and cognitive behavioral therapy used as part of an ADHD treatment plan can provide relief for chronic pain symptoms as well.

Dr. Michael Lenze – Fibromyalgia and ADHD

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2 Responses

  1. James McNamara
    | Reply

    As a person with adhd who also suffers with chronic pain I’d be very interested to find out more about this research.
    Especially interested in the medications that may be able to help with both the adhd and pain.
    Please feel free to forward any information you feel is relevant.
    Many thanks,

  2. Eva O'Malley
    | Reply

    Clearly there is connection between FM and ADHD. Both of these disorders demonstrate the overexpression of neurological functions, one being in the cognition of pain and the other the cognition of emotion. Their is clearly an overlap of these two as one is designed specifically to evoke the other. Gratefully, there is the ability to moderate both of them using the same approach. Mindfulness has been a epically life changing Pratrice for both conditions and with such evidence, I hope to see a lot more go into helping patients adopt not only practice of this for managing physical pain but for managing emotional pain as well. Creating a much less inflammatory sensitive environment, can also have positive effects on emotional recovery and maintenance of chronic pain. See “Black Duck Moment” as a way to reframe how one can not being in pain every moment, and to find relief in knowing that those moments add up over the day. Celebrate and farm those and experience a better life period.

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