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Fibromyalgia and ADD/ADHD – Diagnosing the Link between Them

Childhood Fibromyalgia and ADD/ADHD have neurological symptoms that are similar and interchangeable. Knowing what to look for and why they are connected is a key component to diagnosing a child properly.

ADHD and its cousin condition ADD have well known symptoms such as lack of focus, confusion, lack of clarity, and an inability to follow directions. Remarkably, the symptoms commonly associated with Fibromyalgia are almost identical to those in ADD/ADHD. What’s the connection? When diagnosing chronic disorders in children, oftentimes, these two symptoms are misdiagnosed with one another.

The biggest issue when trying to diagnose between Fibromyalgia and ADD/ADHD is the presence or absence of pain. However, most children translate pain in ways that adults don’t. With both disorders exhibiting similar neurological symptoms without the specific complaint of pain throughout portions of the body, Fibromyalgia can be mistaken for ADD/ADHD.

Another pain issue between the two is diagnosing between headaches – another symptom commonly associated with both disorders. For children diagnosed with ADD/ADHD, headaches are usually attributed to stress and “overworking” of the brain to try to focus and compute information. Fibromyalgia patients experience headaches as well, but are usually attributed to nervous system translation and over-stimulated nerves. Unfortunately, for children, it’s hard to determine what kind of headache they are experiencing and the intensity of that headache. In fact, both conditions are often associated with migraines – a condition that affects thousands of children every year.

When diagnosing either ADD/ADHD or Fibromyalgia, pain is used as an indicator to differentiate the two. However, with most children pain is translated loosely. For example, many children that are struggling to maintain focus during school as with ADD/ADHD will feel stress in the form of a stomach ache or even joint pain. Whereas, a child that feels fatigued or in overall pain from Fibromyalgia may show signs of irritability, lack of concentration, and an inability to complete tasks. For obvious reasons, these two conditions are very similar in neurological symptoms.

Avoiding a misdiagnosis is difficult, but not impossible. The best approach is to utilize the services of a medical pediatric psychiatrist. This is the best qualified person to determine true pain symptoms through a child’s expressions. Working together with a pediatrician and a psychiatrist can offer the best hope for an accurate diagnosis of either ADD/ADHD or Fibromyalgia. It is also important to continue follow up care and subsequent therapies to monitor if there is any improvement. This ensures that the appropriate care plan is being employed.

At home to treat either condition, techniques like home organization, nutritional guidance, and systematic routine can often provide emotional and physical relief to both ADD/ADHD and Fibromyalgia patients. Hormones, preservatives, and food dyes have been shown to have profound effects both behaviorally and physical for both disorders. Incorporating a whole diet rich in Omege-3 fatty acids and high in magnesium helps with symptoms such as focus, irritability, pain, migraines, and fatigue. Organization and structure provide a consistent environment that reduces stress and irritability – both triggers for ADD/ADHD and Fibromyalgia.

Dealing with childhood ADD/ADHD or Fibromyalgia can be difficult. However, the most important part of the process is getting an accurate diagnosis and treating the right condition. Both have similar symptoms that are easily mistaken for the other. With some professional guidance and some minor changes at home, a child suffering from either can be successfully treated for either ADD/ADHD or Fibromyalgia and have a full and happy childhood.