Do you think fibromyalgia makes you more likely to fall? A recent study suggests it does. Researchers presented data at The American Pain Society's 29th Annual Scientific Meeting.
An interesting aspect of this study is that they looked at 3 measures of balance: visual, spatial and somatosensory (input from the skin and other organs.) The fibro folks did worse than their healthy counterparts in all 3. In fact, researchers tell WebMD that the average 50 year old with fibromyalgia did worse than what you'd expect in someone who was 70 or 80.
Researchers concluded that we need to do exercises that improve balance to prevent falls.
Most of us are well aware that we have balance problems. I frequently stagger, stumble or sway because I suddenly find myself off balance. I remember one particularly stressful day back when I was a TV news producer when I was rushing down a hallway and repeatedly bounced off the wall because I couldn't walk straight. The symptom is called either orthostatic intolerance or neurally mediated hypotension, depending on what appears to be causing it.
I took a poll about a year and a half ago on how clumsy we are, and the results speak for themselves -- more than 80% said "Oh boy, yes!"
So how can we improve our balance? Another recent study showed that whole-body vibration can help. Also, yoga and Tai Chi are both options that may work well for us. (Just be sure that you start slowly and stay within your "safe" zone of exertion so you don't cause a flare.)
This study also made me think about bone health. Did you know fibromyalgia may actually be a risk factor for osteoporosis? Whether its because we're less active than other people or due to problems with absorption (or both), we need to be on alert for this. When you combine osteoporosis with a tendency to fall, you end up with broken bones. Here's information on osteoporosis for you:
- What You Need to Know About Osteoporosis, from About.com Orthopedics Guide Jonathan Cluett, M.D.
- Preventing Osteoporosis, from About.com's Senior Health site
Do you have balance problems? Have you had some bad falls? Do you have osteoporosis or early signs of it? Leave your comments below!
Learn more or join the conversation!
- Fibromyalgia & Exercise: Get Started the Right Way
- What You Need to Know About Taking Supplements
- Food of the Week Series
Photo © Charlie Schuck/Getty Images