Balance problems are a huge concern for many people who have fibromyalgia. Sometimes it is caused by pain such as myofascial pain in the legs and hips or tendinitis in the feet, but sometimes it seems we just cannot seem to navigate without bumping into walls, doorways, tables etc. You know it is bad when small pets run, scrambling for the nearest piece of furniture as they see you coming toward them. This informative article below introduces a new look at an old problem.
National Fibromyalgia & Chronic Pain Association applauds new study shedding light on relationship between dyscognition (fibro fog) and balance deficits
LOGAN, Utah–(9 August 2011)–In recent surveys, persons with fibromyalgia reported balance problems as one of the top 10 most debilitating symptoms.
Now, a new pilot study has found that ‘fibro fog” (dyscognition) may be one of the main contributing factors why non-elderly people with fibromyalgia are five times more likely to lose their balance and fall than healthy controls.
Fibromyalgia is characterized by overall chronic body pain, fatigue and sleep disorders; common symptoms included cognition or “fibro fog” which describes cognitive problems affecting memory loss, language use and learning. The study also found that weight gain, a common tendency for people with fibromyalgia from side effects of prescription drugs and inability to exercise, and abnormal tender points in the legs also affect balance and falls.
“Fibro fog may encompass short term memory loss, difficulties using language, and difficulties learning in a distracting environment,” said Kim Dupree Jones, the study’s lead researcher from Oregon Health
Sciences University. “So when the brain is not processing signals to the feet quickly and accurately, then this dyscognition is highly related to objective balance scores and the number of self-reportedfalls.”
The study compared 25 middle-aged fibromyalgia patients and 27 matched healthy controls (HCs) with a combined mean age of 48.6. Participants underwent computerized dynamic posturography testing, a machine used to assess and quantify balance to determine whether a disorder is getting better or worse, or the response to treatment.
Study participants also completed the Revised Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire (FIQR) and balance/fall questionnaires. All subjects underwent a neurological and musculoskeletal exam.
According to the study, fibromyalgia patients scored statistically lower on balance tests that govern the eyes, ears, muscle and nerves.
Fibromyalgia participants also reported less balance confidence than healthy controls. Balance confidence was significantly different between groups, with fibromyalgia patients reporting less confidence than HCs.
“These findings are significant because it helps to dispel a lot of the myths and misunderstandings about people with fibromyalgia as being accident prone or not paying attention to their surroundings,” added Jones. “Frequent loss of balance confidence helps to explain why people with fibromyalgia avoid social gatherings and crowds, or just going out in general. They don’t want to fall in public. When fibromyalgia patients fall, it takes a long time for them to recover.”
The study also reported that 76 to 84% of fibromyalgia patients had abnormal lower extremity myofascial trigger points. The multiple tender points are pain points or localized areas of tenderness around joints which are used to determine a diagnosis of fibromyalgia. Only 11% of healthy controls had fallen only once during the past 6 months, whereas 72% of fibromyalgia patients had fallen at least once. Sixty percent of fibromyalgia patients reported falling more than 3 times in the past 6 months.
“Our findings strongly suggest that we need to further study these factors that contribute to loss of balance in fibromyalgia patients and to develop interventions that combine balance training with exercise and cognitive training,” said Jones. “Middle age people with fibromyalgia should not be performing at the level of 80- year olds.”
“Fibromyalgia symptoms in addition to chronic pain affect the quality of daily life for the millions of people suffering with fibromyalgia,” said Jan Favero Chambers, president and founder of the National Fibromyalgia & Chronic Pain Association, who was diagnosed with fibromyalgia in 2006. “People often mistakenly attribute balance and QOL declines with mostly the aging. By paying attention to the often overlooked aspects of fibromyalgia symptoms, this study can help improve overallhealth.”
The study was published in Arthritis Research & Therapy, Aug 2, 2011 by Kim D Jones, Laurie A King, Scott D Mist, Robert M Bennett and Fay B Horak, Fibromyalgia Research Unit, Schools of Nursing & Medicine, and PT Balance Disorders Laboratory, Neurological Sciences Institute, Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, Oregon, USA.