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Adrienne Dellwo

Falls Linked to Poor Sleep in Fibromyalgia

By December 10, 2012

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Research Brief

A recent study linked falls in people with fibromyalgia to poor sleep the night before.

This research supported earlier work suggesting that falls were especially common in this illness and sought to find out why. Researchers determined that there's a significant increase in fall risk after a bad night of sleep that leaves you fatigued.

Also of note when you're talking about falls is that fibromyalgia is believed to predispose you to osteoporosis, which increases the likelihood of breaking a bone in a fall. Your doctor can help you determine how healthy your bones are and whether you need to make dietary changes, such as adding calcium supplements, or should consider osteoporosis medications.

Do you fall frequently? Does it seem to happen more when you're especially tired? Have you been hurt in a fall? Leave your comments below!

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Comments
December 11, 2012 at 9:44 am
(1) dfwmom says:

The falls may also have something to do with medications common for fibromyalgia. People with Fibromyalgia are often prescribed Lyrica. Lyrica has a reputation for making people walk into walls. My daughter complained that she would command her leg to stop moving forward and it would just keep moving. If you google “Lyrica” and “walking into walls”, you will see many people complaining of this phenomena.

It is advisable for people who are on Lyrica to take their time and get a firm grip on a railing when navigating steps, and to stand a few steps back from any drop-offs. Or, just get off Lyrica. We didn’t find that it helped that much, and when it does, it improves one symptom by making others worse.

December 13, 2012 at 6:21 am
(2) Linda says:

I agree medication like amytriptyline and tramadol with the central sensiation of fibromyalgia increases the risk of me falling. That’s why I’m so happy I discovered the Alpha-Stim. It reduces my pain without side-effects that medication give, and it improves my quality of sleep. An added bonus it also took away my fibro fog.

December 14, 2012 at 5:49 pm
(3) Karen says:

I have had problems with falls in the past. Multifactored but vision problems and fatigues certainly part of the problem.Fibro didn’t help.

A couple of months ago, my neurologist came up with a medication to try called Horizant. It is a new form of gabapentin. It is used for a number of things such as restless leg, seizure disorders among others.

Since I have been on it, I have gotten 7-8 hours of sleep a night…all at once, not toss and turn stuff. I have not had that for years! Most nights I was lucky to get 4-5 and then it was a toss and turn sort of deal. I have had less nerve pain or paresthesias as well. I am almost human again

I hope it will last and not be a situation where it works for awhile and then doesn’t. I’ve been on it 2 months now and have had only had one night of less than 7 hours of sleep. I’ll take it with gratitude and hope it continues.

December 14, 2012 at 9:00 pm
(4) Maria says:

Although I have CFIDS, not FM, I have all long hx of tripping, bumping into things, and bruises that I don’t even remember getting.
Last week I fell down part of our circular iron staircase. I used to romanticize those when I was a teenager. Now I think they are deathtraps. I had fallen partway on those stairs before, and immediately put down non-skid tape that comes in rolls and is very hardy. The tape was removed when we had the staircase painted, and the contractor who replaced it did not make it long enough to cover each stair. I happened to step in a spot that was not covered.
My chiropractor has put me back together, nothing is broken, but I have huge welts on my back from the fall. If you have ANY stairs in your house, make sure they are not slippery in any way and take precautions to keep yourself safe!

December 14, 2012 at 9:53 pm
(5) Cindy H says:

The lack of sleep connection puzzles me about falls as I thought our lack of balance caused falls more than anything else. Over the years I have fallen several times having fibromyalgia. Several years ago I tripped on a stereo wire that had become uncovered on the floor. The pain increased over a several week period to such a point that a nurse at the VA hospital advised I go to emergency because of my high BP and pulse being so suddenly high from the high pain level. Had to have a special pain shot administered.
I believe that all fibromites need to be extra careful on even slightly sloping walkways/uneven ground, tiled or linoleum floors with shoes/slippers that have even a mildly slippery sole, and STAIRS of any kind, as another commenter advised. I am very mindful going up and down stairs, making sure to use the handrail. I had an apartment that had three front steps w/o a handrail and tumbled down several times. I now intentionally live in a duplex w/o steps or stairs because of fibro and pain.
One other thing I must be careful about is incontinence. When I get the urge to pee badly all of a sudden, I used to walk scissor legged so as to avoid any possibility of wetting myself (even with a pad). This throws my balance off and I’ve come close to falling several times from this. I stopped doing this and rush to the bathroom, dribbling be damned, as it is much easier to do extra laundry than to recover from a fall as I’ve learned. Learning and practicing mindfulness techniques IMHO is a must for fibromites when we move about or drive. It helps to develop better concentration despite having the cognitive problems like fibro fog so many of us get. Happy holidays to all!

December 14, 2012 at 10:11 pm
(6) Marie says:

I fell in July….just a step down a boulder at Caesar’s Head SC. And down I went..broken femur & tibia! Bad break & had to have surgery to put a rod & 3 screws in my leg…permanently.
I’m now taking supplements to aid in healing. I’ll continue to take them & pray this doesn’t happen again!

December 15, 2012 at 1:23 am
(7) Fibro101 says:

Must have read my note to my doctor. I have fallen three times past two to three weeks. I cannot sleep at night. Falls when surface level changes. While venturing out in the world I stepped down to a sunken room in new home and right leg mostly my knee to swayed left to right and I caught myself and did not fall. Great head home iced my knee and took meds. I said I am going back out darn it did fine until salesman said their are steps down in garage. No handle and still fell. Plywood stairs and as soon as I recovered I fell down four feet. The builder thought it was handy for pulling in cars. Second fall the man grabbed on to me not quite sure where. I was hurting under my arms and ribs. Not to mention my feet issues. I thought it would be a nice cheap outing. Last fall on my stairs going down and my rubber sole shoe slide off the carpet and down I went. I avoid stairs at all costs. During this time I had not slept for 3 days. Mistake should have found something else to do. So ladies be careful out there.

December 15, 2012 at 2:10 am
(8) sue smith says:

I have been falling all my life since my early twenties. With fibromyalgia, I probably had vitamin deficiencies then and didn’t know it. Also have osteosporosis preceded by not getting properly treated for vitamin d defiency. Personally, all this but I think B12 deficiencies, prevalent in CFS, although rare in the general public, weakens legs; thus, causing falls.

December 15, 2012 at 10:01 am
(9) honda4fun says:

I don’t have CFS & FM, just CFS, but I have read that balance problems do affect both groups.

I know if I’ve done too much I stagger like a drunk and really hate being out, even if it’s just in my front yard as neighbours are likely to notice and speculate.

I’ve had these problems since onset (many, many years) but didn’t realize it was so bad until I was diagnosed with CFS/ME last March. The specialist told me to never ride a bike and if I’m on a treadmill, to hold at all times.

Almost 2 months ago, I was overdue for a rest and foolishly continued on. I lost my footing and fell on concreete. I really banged myself up with gashes to one knee and elbow and bruises on the right side of my boday. Thinking back, the tumble I took down the basement stairs a year ago could have resulted from the same weariness.

I think…
1) we all have problems with our equilibrium
2) meds that make you drowsy will definitely add to the mix
3) fatigue is also going to play a part as well

I think sometimes when we’re so fatigued we don’t realise just how rundown we are and/or lightheaded and then things happen!

December 15, 2012 at 2:01 pm
(10) Mbloomer says:

I have had ME and fibro for about 32 years now. It does cause balance problems. Mine got much worse when I started taking Antiviral meds. I had to hold onto something at all times as the ground was rolling under my feet and I could not tell if I was upright or tilted. I got help from a physical therapist with a specific exercise designed to flush crystals and debris out of the inner ear. Balance improved immediately. Falls are one of the major causes of death for us so I continue to swallow my pride and use a walker or the electrice cart at the grocery store.

December 16, 2012 at 6:28 pm
(11) Candy says:

I’ve taken to using my cane all the time now. Four years ago moved from a 3rd floor walkup to the ground floor because of all the steps and unsteadness. Then I was able to go on my way for a while. About a year ago, the cane would come out for rainy weather or really cold weather. Now it is out all the time.

I weave back and forth. I have to use my cane to steady myself so I won’t fall.

I’m so tired of this eating into my life.

December 16, 2012 at 6:29 pm
(12) Pam says:

I Feel like i’m going to fall a Lot, I have Fibro, I take cymbalta, when I first started getting my fibro, I was falling a lot, But Now after being on cymbalta for 2 years, I never fall, Just feel like I’m going because I’m tired because I don’t sleep well every-night. My little brothers Who are very tall always catch me, I don’t know how many types They have caught me from falling.
Xo Pam

December 16, 2012 at 6:54 pm
(13) Wendy says:

Holy cow – I thought it was just me! I definitely have to be careful if I get up in the night. The gabapentin makes me walk like a drunken sailor, so I hang on to everything and don’t stand up until I feel steady.

December 16, 2012 at 7:30 pm
(14) rachelle says:

I had never broken anything when I had fallen until two months ago. I tripped over the cord while airing up my tire at home and fell on my left side all the way down from my hip to my foot on the concrete. I ended up w/a broken foot not realizing it was broken, just thought I’d bruised it internally, wasn’t really swollen or bruised badly on the outside much. Well, being I’m not able to work, going thru a divorce and had to file bankruptcy I had no money to go to the doctor and see about it. After three weeks of walking on it, I miracously got a temporary medicaid card in the mail for two months so I went to get an xray. Of course it was broken and now has been casted for two months. Since it has not been healing I am now also doing bone stimulation for it to heal. Thank you God that the cast comes off this next week and I’ll be done with it, but will continue doing the bone stimuation for a couple more months. All because I had to air up my tire before I could go do errands. I’ve learned my lesson, if I can get to town I’m taking the jeep to Zippy Lube and letting my tech check my tires from now on. Just thank you Jesus it wasn’t worse. Guess it was my wake up call to slow down because I’ve had to use a walker every since.

December 17, 2012 at 7:41 am
(15) Carolyn says:

I have never been told that falls were something that others with fibromyalgia encountered and I have been very worried about what was wrong with me because I have been falling all the time. I fall when I am exhausted and haven’t slept. I go through stages where I feel really good and then I can’t sleep or if I do it is only for an hour or so at a time. After a few days of this, I become a zombie one night and can be standing up doing something and just pass out. I have hurt myself pretty bad and this last time I am still suffering from a lot. I am going through more test, CTscans, etc. because I hurt my left arm, shoulder and my cervical spine and T-1.T-2 discs to the point I am having a hard time functioning. I can’t clean my apartment or do too much at once without it being too much pain and I already take pain meds. This falling is getting dangerous for me so I am really trying to be very mindful and make myself stay in bed when I am tired, whether I sleep or not so I will not fall.

December 18, 2012 at 4:39 pm
(16) Sandy says:

What timing! I just fell this morning walking out to the car. There was frost on the porch, so I held on tight to the railing but once I was done with the stairs let go. Mistake!! Skinned my hand and knee pretty good, and just hope I don’t end up with a black eye where I hit the side of my face. A month or two ago I tripped at a gas station and rammed the side of the building. Ended up with 10 staples in the top of my head over that one. I told my husband I end to take out stock in bubble wrap!!

December 18, 2012 at 7:46 pm
(17) Raylee says:

What is alpha-stim

December 21, 2012 at 5:48 pm
(18) Carol says:

I have had a lot of issues with falls. Have had serious broken bones !!!!
Been having times here of late that I just lose balance,I just try to be careful if I can. Been taking Lyrica for a long time now.

December 22, 2012 at 2:17 am
(19) Carolyn says:

I am so relieved to see that falls are something that results from fibromyalgia also. I had went to my doctor and she wanted to run all sorts of tests because I was worried about why I was falling. When I do fall, I always get hurt pretty badly and did end up in the hospital once having surgery on my hand because of it. I go through days and nights that I cannot sleep and then I got so exhausted that suddenly it hits me and I find myself falling asleep standing up somewhere and I do mean that literally. I have been dealing with fibro for over fifteen years now and the last six seem to have gotten worse even though I am told it doesn’t progress. I have lost my balance and I at one time could walk across a room with a book on my head. Now I can’t take a step with one foot in front of the other. Fibromyalgia has changed my life in so many ways and I continue to try to accept this and learn to adjust but it is very difficult especially when something reminds me of how my life was just a few years ago and how drastically it has changed since. I am too young to live isolated, in pain almost all the time and without any social life or ways to enjoy life.

December 22, 2012 at 2:17 am
(20) Carolyn says:

I am so relieved to see that falls are something that results from fibromyalgia also. I had went to my doctor and she wanted to run all sorts of tests because I was worried about why I was falling. When I do fall, I always get hurt pretty badly and did end up in the hospital once having surgery on my hand because of it. I go through days and nights that I cannot sleep and then I got so exhausted that suddenly it hits me and I find myself falling asleep standing up somewhere and I do mean that literally. I have been dealing with fibro for over fifteen years now and the last six seem to have gotten worse even though I am told it doesn’t progress. I have lost my balance and I at one time could walk across a room with a book on my head. Now I can’t take a step with one foot in front of the other. Fibromyalgia has changed my life in so many ways and I continue to try to accept this and learn to adjust but it is very difficult especially when something reminds me of how my life was just a few years ago and how drastically it has changed since. I am too young to live isolated, in pain almost all the time and without any social life or ways to enjoy life.

December 22, 2012 at 5:46 pm
(21) Shosh says:

I have fibro and CF and all the complications the complications that go with them. I also have vertigo and bad balance and I was falling all the time and my legs are always black and blue from bruises from bumping into things.

I returned from a trip with 9 hours time change and had horrific jet lag. Did not sleep for two night straight and fell and broke my ankle. I was so tired I could not remember exactly where or how I fell and had a whole battery of tests. After recovery and Physio I now go to Pilates and yoga when I have the energy and these have made a tremendous difference to my balance but sometimes I am just too tired to go. Now if only my family would understand ……

December 26, 2012 at 3:07 pm
(22) eaglehaslanded says:

YES! What IS Alpha-stim ??????

(((hugs))) from eaglehaslanded

January 11, 2013 at 10:45 am
(23) jan no idea says:

Why are some people down on Lyrica!!? what are the alternatives?
I have been taking them for 12 mths now they definately take the acute edge off the pain.Is there something better that has approval ?
will my doctor have heard of it? please help you all seem to be so expereienced and knowledgeable

January 11, 2013 at 12:07 pm
(24) Sheila says:

I almost feel relieved reading about falls. I have had lots of nasty falls over the last few months and also tend to weave when I walk particularly when I am tired.
I take Gabapentin

January 12, 2013 at 11:27 am
(25) caroline dawson says:

I used to fall over several times a week and was lefto felt embarrassed and bruised. I startd on prozac and within one week my fall rate had lowered. if i mess up the timing or dosage of my prozac then i have noticed the falls return very quickly.

January 31, 2013 at 5:41 pm
(26) Rhonda says:

I have had fibromyalgia for 30 years, more or less. I have always been clumsy and I fall several times a year, some badly. The doctors ask me why I fell and all I can say is that “I don’t know”. Once I start falling it seems impossible to catch myself and sometimes doing that even makes it a worse fall. Sure I’m tired all the time. Yes, I’m on medication and I end up with bruises I do not know where they come from. I’ve tried different medications over the years. None has improved my falling risk. Some medications just did not work for me or made matters worse. I was put on Lyrica and then Celebrex. Both of them put so much weight on me within weeks of starting them. That led to severe depression which increased my falling. To say it is all in my head seems very true for me because juggling my aches, pains, fatigue, thoughts and physical activity lead to a lot of distractions, at least that is one of my theories.

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