May 22, 2007

Fibromyalgia - Asperger/Autism Connection?

Aryeh Abeles, MD and other contributing doctors have authored research recently published in the Annals of Internal Medicine. The study put forth the notion that Fibromyalgia sufferers have a lower pain threshold.

Maybe it's better to sayt that they have a greater sensativity to everything. Maybe Fibromyalgia sufferers sensory defensive.

Having recenly been reading the book "Too Loud, Too Bright, Too Fast, Too Tight: What to Do If You Are Sensory Defensive in an Overstimulating World", I started wondering if there is a connection between the overstimulated state of our Aspie brains and the existance of chronic pain.

I wonder if Aspies have more occurance of Fibromyalgia and other similar conditions?

This is a very short post. Just posing the question, curious of what anyone else is thinking.



  1. I'm an Aspie with fibromylagia. I think the link between the two disorders is chronic stress. Over half of those with Asperger's Syndrome also suffer from stress, anxiety and depression. It's strongly suspected that the hormone imbalance caused by stress, causes neural changes that lead to fibromylagia.

    Since neither the cause of Asperger's, nor the cause of fibromylagia are known, its unlikely the biochemistry of the link will be worked out in my lifetime.

  2. Don't know if anyone is still following this thread. Geneticists have found problems in Asbergers with a specific molecule (SERT) whose job it is to vacuum up extra serotonin. In the variation, the SERT molecule gets turned up extra loud and doesn't respond to the bodies signals to shut back down - and vacuums away too much serotonin. This mechanism is a target for both drugs for Asberger's and Fibromyalgia - and a lot of other diseases that happen when the body gets too little serotonin in the right places. HTH.


  3. Don't know if anyone is following this, but it's interesting. I have Fibromyalgia and have been reading about autism for my work...and I have a low tolerance for noise, lights, smells, and small irritations.
    Very interesting.

  4. I did a search -- "Aspergers + Fibromyalgia" -- as I was interested in the possible connection and came here.

    I've had FMS for 24 long years and I know that certain character traits set me up for it in the first place.

    No doubt there. I was an accident waiting to happen.

    But since then I've created a new way to exist but yesterday my wife threw me the Aspergers curve after an acquaintance labeled me as a 'high functioning' garden variety.

    I hate to agree with her so quickly on such an important observation, but the traits make a lot of sense and explain a lot about me. The label also gives me a means to try and change the traits that have impacted on my relationships.

    I'm not shocked but kind of delighted.

    I'm also 60 years old and we have been going through a rough time with our son -- 18 y/o -- who has been battling ADHD mode.

    So if I can add a possibility: my specific traits of passionate focus, absolute engagement, intensity of involvement to the exclusion of much else set me up for over stressing of my many systems which short circuited whatever it is in FMS that goes haywire -- immune system? cognitive receptors?

    So my view is that the connection is a trait -- one such that not all FMS folk necessarily have a Aspergers condition precursor as FMS relies on convergence of circumstances to kick in.

  5. I just thought of this the other day... I am a 29 year old female diagnosed with fibromyalgia at 17. My son, nearly 13 now, has Asperger's and is sensitive to most everything. I've been doing a lot of reading about Asperger's recently and I think I qualify for a diagnosis on it. I just started seeing a new therapist and we will see what she thinks.

    I started wondering, what if the constant over-stimulation leads to pain? I know that when I go to someplace loud/bright/busy etc (mall or something) I end up with a flare up.. it's only a matter of time, but it will happen. Then you have the aspect of already having heightened sensitivity, so being even more sensitive to the pain itself. "Overreacting" by most other people's standards it seems.

    There are differences between symptoms of Asperger's for males and females and I've read that females are believed to be under-diagnosed because of these differences. What if more of the girls are presenting in a physical way and being diagnosed with fibro instead of Asperger's?

  6. I am a 43yr old mom who has FMS, my mom has lupus and RA. My son was recently diagnosed with asperger's, it also appears that a cousin on my maternal side who also has FMS (there are 4-5 of us that do in this genetic line up)is seeing signs of aspergers in her grandson. I have to wonder about the neurological connection, my boy is very sensitive but it fluctuates, my sensitivity to stimulation fluctuates too. He is also having odd aches and pains and problems sleeping periodically. I was searching on google scholar but couldn't find any good research here, but I think I too has some aspie traits. I also recently met a woman with three apsie kids and two of them had FMS.

  7. I have had Fibromyalgia for many years and have begun to realize over the past few years that I have always had Asperger's as well. It really makes sense that a person is born with Asperger's, is over-reactive to sensory stimuli, and eventually their nervous system is over-taxed by the stress of that. This creates an imbalance between the sympathetic and parasympathetic sides of the nervous system, with the sympathetic side dominating. That results in continuing problems with pain, sleep, and the gut. I just want to know what to do about it. I'm currently taking Savella for the FM, and the side effects are pretty rough. Any ideas ?

  8. hi. i know it's been ages since this has been posted but i'd like to respond quickly. i have fibromyalgia, and while i doubt that i have aspergers, i did have autistic like symptoms as a child growing up. most of my problems as a kid, from what i remember and from what i've heard from my mother, sound like they stemmed from sensory overstimulation. i'm reading a book right now on fibromyalgia, and it's showing me a lot of the cognitive/emotional problems i had as a kid, as well as today, have a history of appearing in fibromyalgia patients throughout their lives, even before the pain starts. so yes, i definitely think there's a link. i have a blog and i may link to this post, if that's alright with you. you can check out my blog if you want, i just started it, it's about learning to live with fibromyalgia:
    thanks for thinking about this out loud! hope you're doing well!

  9. I have been learning more about autism through work. I have been listening to parents talk about all their observations with their children. I thought wow, that is a lot to deal with everyday. Then I thought about my grown childs comments to me that it must be tough living being so particular and sensitive to everything. I have had an FMS diagnosis since my late 20s and am now in my 50s. I cannot wear any synthetic fabrics, my pen has to be just right as does everything else, the list goes on. The connection between FMS-ASD for me is not just in the sensitivities it is as much in being so particular about everything and having difficulty functioning when everything is not just right. I'm not sure if it is more a "Goldilocks" type syndrome or more a "Princess and the Pea" type of particularly or a strong blend of both.

  10. Hello, everyone. Hope you are all ok. Just saw this blog, i do hope it shows up. I'm a 26 lady and suffer with asperger syndrome/severe fibromyalgia/dyslexia/severe anxiety issues. Even though i've had these symptoms since a young child, sadly, i've only been diagnosed recently via the nhs. I think there maybe a link because my nephew has just been diagnosed with autism and low muscle tone. My mum has fibro but she doesn't have autism. I think its bad enough bein autistic but i really hate the pain and fatigue...i am virtually housebound now coz of da pain and anxiety and heavily reliant on family/codeine... Wish there was a cure. Take care folks. Xxx

  11. I know this is an old blog post, but now some new research is showing a potential connection between CFS, and autism spectrum disorders, as well as very likely fibromyalgia (which some doctors consider the same, or closely related to CFS). The connection in this case is a virus, more specifically a retrovirus. But there's still a lot more research that needs to be done. Google CFS and retrovirus, or autism and retrovirus.
    So in time it may be found that the same virus has a very big role to play in all these disorders.

  12. gday, i've been reading about aspergers recently as i think daughter &maybe even myself are affected. i've had fms about 10 years; brought on by chronic stress, insomnia,over-training & then a bad flu. anyhow it's something worth considering isn't it. my pain is well settled these last couple of years from medication (ssrni) & bowen therapy. even some thyrosine for a few months. can see aspie traits in my siblings & kids (ocd, social anxiety, pedantic, over-focused on one topic etc). cheers

  13. Hi
    I have FM and have been diagnosed for the last 8 years...I have a 5 year old daughter with Autism ..The stress that I have had to deal with helping her to be verbal and get a proper education has made me have more flare ups and now find sometimes loosing my balance and falling and getting injured.
    I just wonder if anyone else out there relates.
    Thank you

  14. I have a 5 year old son struggling with non-verbal autism and a 12 years old with speech delay,obsessive compulsive disorder,tourette and possibly autism or asperger.I have been living with fibromyalgia for the past 16 years and was an odd child with a certain fear of people.And I do relate to the increasing flare thing.I am seriously suspected asperger in myself as well.

  15. This an interesting post with interesting comments. I'm pretty sure I do not have fibromyalgia, although a symptom or two might be a match.
    I was struck by one commenter saying that "item X has to be just right", etc. My wife has said that about me in a complaining way, often. I hadn't realized this before, but it's true. When something is just right, life at that point is just so much better, more satisfying.
    I also wanted to comment on sound and noise.
    I too often find some common sounds annoying, and hard to ignore.
    Yet, what I'm convinced helps me to cope with life is music. I enjoy many kinds of music, preferably listened to on a good system, and at an appropriate volume (sometimes on the loud side). I say that because I do not find *that* overstimulating.
    I can spend a few hours reading and listening to music, and "emerge" feeling good, positive, with "get up and go". It recharges me.

  16. This is really interesting to read. I'm 25, and have had OCD and fibro diagnoses for a while now, and it's suddenly becoming clear that all those "quirks" from childhood through to today are most likely Asperger's.

    My PhD, which I'm studying for now, is on music and anxiety, so it's interesting to hear how that helps :)

  17. I have an 18 year old son with autism. He is extremely sound sensitive. I am his 50 year old mother who has FMS. I have always had sensory issues such as overhead lights too bright, perfumes too intense, loud sounds and commotion difficult to cope with. Can't focus on work with radio in background etc. I have to wonder if autism and fibromyalgia are related somehow. Autism affects more males, and FMS more females but both involve sensory issues and sensitivities. I have not been diagnosed as aspie but have many qualities such as Obessive Compulsive Personality, depression, anxiety, but also extremely creative and intelligent in some areas but quite remedial in others. Since there seems to be a genetic predisposition for autism and FMS also runs in families AND both seem to be triggered by something in the environment......sure makes me wonder if they are linked.