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The link between ADHD and hypermobility is real. Multiple studies have found that the two conditions often co-exist. Yet, the reason for this isn’t completely clear.
While Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity, hypermobility has completely different symptoms. With hypermobility, the joints have an increased range of motion beyond the normal limit.
So, just why do so many people with ADHD also have hypermobility? This article will explore this question and uncover how these conditions affect the structure of our brains.
Are neurodivergent people more hypermobile?
Yes, they typically are. A recent study titled ‘Joint Hypermobility Links Neurodivergence to Dysautonomia and Pain’ found that 50% of people who were neurodivergent were hypermobile. In comparison, just 20% of people without a neurodivergent diagnosis were hypermobile.
Why are neurodivergent people more hypermobile?
With this study in mind, you’re probably wondering why neurodivergent people are more hypermobile than the general population. This is likely to be due to brain structure, say scientists.
Research shows that people with hypermobility have altered bilateral amygdala in their brains. The superior temporal cortex in the brain also has a different structure. This replicates the brain changes seen in people with ASD (autism spectrum disorder).
Brain structure isn’t the only link between ADHD and hypermobility, though. Genetics more than likely play a role too. In fact, Psycom reports that genes are the biggest risk factor for ADHD. After all, there’s more than 7,000 genes involved in development of ADHD, according to Stephen Faraone, PhD, professor and vice-chair for research in the department of psychiatry at SUNY Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, New York.
Genetics and hypermobility are also connected. For example, if one parent has hypermobility, the chances of their child having it is 50%. This susceptibility increases to 75% when both parents are hypermobile.
Is hypermobility a symptom of ADHD?
Officially, no, hypermobility isn’t a symptom of ADHD.
The symptoms of ADHD are typically as below:
|Short attention span, especially for non-preferred tasks
|Limited focus, especially on tasks not of interest.
|Hyperactivity, physical, verbal, and emotional
|Excessive restlessness and activity.
|Impulsivity, may manifest as recklessness
|Tendency to act without thinking about consequences.
|Fidgeting or restlessness
|Inability to sit still, often accompanied by movement.
|Disorganization and difficulty prioritizing tasks
|Struggles with task management and setting priorities.
|Poor time management and time blindness
|Difficulty tracking time and managing schedules.
|Frequent mood swings and emotional dysregulation
|Rapid emotional changes and difficulty regulating emotions.
|Forgetfulness and poor working memory
|Difficulty remembering and retaining information.
|Trouble multitasking and executive dysfunction
|Challenges in handling multiple tasks and decision-making.
|Inability to control anger or frustration
|Difficulty managing and expressing anger or frustration.
|Trouble completing tasks and frequent procrastination
|Difficulty finishing tasks and delaying work.
|Easily pulled away from tasks by external stimuli.
|Difficulty awaiting turn
|Impatience and struggles with turn-taking.
Although hypermobility isn’t an official symptom of ADHD, research indicates that it’s a sign. So, if you or your child is hypermobile and also has signs of ADHD, you should certainly get checked out.
Is ADHD linked to hypermobility?
Yes, there is a strong link between ADHD and hypermobility. One study published in the Journal of Attention Disorders found that children with hypermobility were more likely to have symptoms of ADHD than children without hypermobility. Other research suggests that hypermobility is associated with motor control problems, which can also be a symptom of ADHD.
Furthermore, research shows that out of 54 people with ADHD, 32% are hypermobile.
Do people with ADHD have POTS?
Postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS) is a common condition linked to hypermobility. If you have POTS you’ll find that your heart rate often increases quickly, you get dizzy, faint, and experience heart palpitations. Research has found that people with POTS typically have more inattention than people without POTS. This is, therefore, indicative of ADHD. However, a full ADHD assessment must take place to confirm a diagnosis of ADHD.
How to help hypermobility & ADHD?
As hypermobility and ADHD are common, managing these two conditions is essential. The pain associated with hypermobility is one of the biggest issues, particularly in people with hyperactivity. It’s important not to excessively move to the point joints are knocked and injured as this can lead to bruising, additional pain, subluxations, and, in severe cases, a hypermobile-related fracture.
Gentle, regular exercise should be routinely done. This should include walking, swimming, isometric exercises, and pilates designed for hypermobility. Eating healthily is also recommended. Sugar, in particular, should be avoided to prevent inflammation and hyperactivity.
Finally, getting plenty of rest, setting time aside for hobbies, and generally improving your wellbeing can do wonders for the health of people with hypermobility and ADHD.
There’s a clear link between ADHD and hypermobility. However, there seems to be many different reasons for this connection. Both conditions have unique characteristics, so if you think you or your child have either condition or both, make sure you get assessed.