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Fibromyalgia is Associated with Impaired Balance and Falls – Source: Journal of Clinical Rheumatology, Dec 19, 2008

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Background/Objective: The purpose of this study was to determine whether fibromyalgia (FM) patients differ from matched healthy controls in clinical tests of balance ability and fall frequency.

Methods: Thirty-four FM patients and 32 age-matched controls were administered the Balance Evaluation-Systems Test (BESTest), rated their balance confidence with the Activities-Specific Balance Confidence (ABC) Scale, and reported the number of falls in the last 6 months. The Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire was used to assess FM severity.

Results:

• FM patients had significantly impaired balance in all components of the BESTest compared with controls.

• They also scored more poorly on balance confidence.

• Overall FM severity (Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire) correlated significantly with the BESTest and the ABC scale. The BESTest and ABC correlated significantly with 6 commonly reported FM symptoms (excluding pain).

• FM patients reported a total of 37 falls over the last 6-months compared with 6 falls in healthy controls.

Conclusion:

• FM is associated with balance problems and increased fall frequency. Patients were aware of their balance problems.

• These results suggest that FM may affect peripheral and/or central mechanisms of postural control.

• Further objective study is needed to identify the relative contributions of various neural and musculoskeletal and other impairments to postural stability in FM to provide clinicians with methods to maximize postural stability and help fall prevention.

Source: Journal of Clinical Rheumatology, Dec 19, 2008. [E-pub ahead of print] PMID: 19125137,  by Jones KD, Horak FB, Winters-Stone K, Irvine JM, Bennett RM. Schools of Nursing and Medicine, Oregon Health and Science University, Portland, Oregon, USA.

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4 thoughts on “Fibromyalgia is Associated with Impaired Balance and Falls – Source: Journal of Clinical Rheumatology, Dec 19, 2008”

  1. Dianneweiland says:

    Before I got Fibromyalgia in 1995, I was athletic, and active. Now, I’m so clumsy and I’m always losing my balance that I can’t even ride a bike anymore, even if I had the energy to do so, which I don’t. I took Elavil for awhile, since it was prescribed by my MD, but it didn’t help me and the side effects were terrible, like a forty-pound weight gain, which dropped off as soon as I discontinued taking the Elavil! I’m now taking Gabapentin, which helps a bit with the nerve pain in my legs, but it also causes weight gain, so I’m only taking two a day. I’ve always been slender and athletic all of my life, so I know that the medications are what cause the weight gain, but when one is in constant pain, one will try just about anything! But, my balance is terrible, and I Know that it’s due to the Fibromyalgia. I’ve always got bruises from bumping into things and I’ve fallen down at least four times, hitting my head, and getting a concussion once. I’m lucky I haven’t hurt myself worse. YES, Fibromyalgia causes Impaired Balance; I’m a walking example!
    Dianne

  2. JudyG says:

    Since I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia three years ago, I have noticed that I often lose my balance and I have had falls. The last fall was in December at my son’s wedding, resulting in minor injuries. I have wondered why I am losing my balance so often. Perhaps this explains why.

  3. smeyers says:

    It makes sense since Fibro makes your muscles stiff and sore. I have the additional problem of short achilles tendons so I fall all the time!

  4. joeperry says:

    So in 6 months 34 FM patients had a total of 37 falls – 1 each…. is that really a very significant number? It may vary from the control group but its only 1 -ish fall per 6 months.

    What about studying other more siginifcant symptoms… like fatigue from minor physical exersion; why the severity of symptoms varies so markedly; sleeping issues; etc.

    Ive had FM for 5 years and whilst at times my balance has been slightly affected (largely when I was ill with cytomegalovirus) I wouldnt even mention it s a symptom compared to other more primary symptoms.

    Maybe age or sex are factors with balance (despite the age matched control group here). Im only 37 and male – I can do one legged yoga stands no problem. I havent had one fall in five years though Ive been close a few times.

    Perhaps like other symptoms balance issues are another that vary in severity from person to person or between genders, whereas the study seems to be suggesting they are an integral feature of the illness for all. That may be an exageration.

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