People with fibromyalgia frequently report problems with balance and coordination, which sometimes lead to falling. A new study is the first to examine falls as part of the experience of those with this condition.
Researchers assessed the fall risk by having 18 women with fibromyalgia keep fall diaries for 6 months. In that time, all but one of the participants fell or nearly fell. The median number of falls was 2 per person, with 3 near-falls. Only one fall resulted in an injury.
Fewer than half of the women reported severe symptoms just prior to the falls/near falls.
Common themes among the women included:
- Always being careful or generally cautiousness
- Fear of losing control of the body, especially connected to balance
- Weighing desire to be active against fear of falling
- Perception of being clumsy
While this study likely doesn't surprise most of us with fibromyalgia, it's good to see the medical community start to recognize the severity of our balance problems and how limiting this symptom can be for us.
When your body amplifies pain signals, it's natural to become fearful of things - such as falls - that could cause additional pain. While in the study only one person was injured in a fall, I know from experience that something doesn't have to qualify as an actual injury to cause plenty of pain.
In any fall, your muscles are jarred and some part of you impacts a solid surface. That's going to cause considerably more pain in us than it would for someone else. Even nearly falling can be painful as well, as your muscles tense and fight to keep you upright. There's also a burst of adrenaline involved, which causes a symptom spike for many of us.
I've had minor falls and near-falls that have sent me straight for the pain meds and the couch, and have kept me there for a few hours or even a few days.
I didn't used to be clumsy, but since fibromyalgia hit, I definitely am. It's common for me to lose my balance and stagger, sometimes bouncing off of a wall or slamming into a piece of furniture. I've occasionally lost my balance on the stairs and had to sit down to keep from toppling over.
These episodes of poor balance don't seem to be connected to other symptoms - they just happen. Even with most of my symptoms in a long-term remission, I still have some balance issues.
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