I am right now 57 years old and being fighting fibromyalgia for more than 32 years. It’s not easy going through every day with fibro. With time, a normal person tends to lose its energy, He/She cannot walk properly, can’t put up heavyweights, etc but in the case of fibro, These symptoms seem to appear a bit earlier than a normal person. One of the Main problem for fibro patients, especially for old people is that they have poor balance and dizziness which eventually causes you to fall a lot. For some people, these are minor complaints but sometimes you get severely injured because of falling which is a major concern for all fibro sufferers.
Fibro patients are always in constant pain whether its mild or severe. The last thing we need is to hurt ourselves from falling. It’s a very serious problem along with Pain and fatigue.
The fear of falling and injury makes you inactive for most of the day. For example, if you have to go upstairs to do some job, You would probably think that it would take a tremendous amount of energy to go upstairs and what if I slip from stairs and injure myself. That fear can, in turn, make you afraid to remain active. According to a Recent study in Clinical Rheumatology, About 74% of Fibromyalgia Patients have a fear of Physical Activity and almost 80% of patients have a problem with balance.
Falling is actually not a symptom, Instead, it is a consequence of having a poor balance and dizziness. So what can we do about these problems?
Fibromyalgia and Dizziness
Dizziness mostly comes on when you stand up quickly. If you are sitting or laying down, you might don’t feel any dizziness. It works like a “Head Rush”, As soon as you try to stand up, you’re head will feel dizzy. You might need a minute or two to lose this dizziness or you might fall down. This dizziness will make you move slowly so that you don’t fall.
According to 2017 Study Published in “European Journal of Pain”, Dizziness and fainting may be part of the same subgroup.
This subgroup also had the most severe pain as well as many other symptoms. Most of these symptoms are similar to many other conditions like “fibro flare”, Irritable bowel syndrome, Restless leg syndrome and Vulvodynia.
According to research, Dizziness is caused by dysfunction of the Autonomous nervous system ANS, also known as dysautonomia.
The autonomous nervous system (ANS) is responsible for many critical functions in our body like heart rate, Digestion, Metabolism and body temperature.
Dizziness caused by Autonomous nervous system ANS can also be called as orthostatic intolerance or postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS). In Simple words, these things mean that heart and brain are not communicating properly with each other.
So what actually happens when you stand up from a lying or sitting position. Under normal condition, When you stand up, your heart provides sufficient blood to your brain in order to keep good blood pressure. With Dysautonomia, when you stand up, your heart does not supply enough blood to your brain which causes you to feel light-headed or dizzy. In POTS, the heart rate speeds up as blood pressure drops.
Dizziness will also make you feel that your heart is beating very fast like you are running. It may also cause chest Pain and blurred vision.
In a study of 2008, Researchers found out that dizziness and fast heartbeat are more common than fainting. They also suggested that POTS is one of the main symptoms they observed during tests.
Balance and Walking Problems in Fibromyalgia
Research had suggested that people with fibromyalgia walk differently than normal people. A study in 2009 reported that about 30% of people with fibromyalgia have an abnormal walking manner.
In 2017, A research is conducted on functional performance, researchers said that gait and balance were severely impaired in fibromyalgia. Differences included:
- Shorter Stride
- Moving at a Slow Pace
- Body Sway in a Unique Manner
Researchers also found that balance and walking manner were worse in people who had more Pain, fatigue, and anxiety.
Researchers also suggested that this difference in balance and Uniqueness in a walkng manner is also one the primary reason for fibromyalgia falls. They recommended that if fibromyalgia patients could work on their gait and balance then they can reduce their falls.
The sole purpose of this study was to show that gait and balance are one of the primary reason for fibromyalgia falls. Usually, doctors don’t consider falls as of great importance but if you are concerned, You should surely discuss it with your doctor or rehabilitator.
Reducing Dizziness and Fall Risk in Fibromyalgia
If you are able to treat your fibromyalgia successfully or even able to reduce its symptoms then dizziness or balance won’t affect you. However, if you think you need more attention to dizziness or balance then there are several options to consider.
For dizziness from POTS, Your doctor might suggest you some medication. Medication might be able to help but try to avoid them and use some natural diets. Common Medications are SSRI/SNRI, benzodiazepines and beta blockers.
One other main cause of fainting is Smoking. Research Published in RA Journal Joint suggested that quitting smoke may greatly reduce your fainting and many other fibromyalgia symptoms.
For Balance and Gait problem, the Most common treatment is physical therapy. You can also consult your doctor whether yoga/taichi or some other method is helpful or not. Most people don’t prefer yoga because it needs stretching which hurts fibro patients.
Until you get rid or reduce these symptoms, you need to be careful. You might find cane or walker helpful to keep you on your feet. These solutions are those which I find helpful, If you have any other in mind Do let us know in comments so that our community can get benefit from them. STAY STRONG WARRIORS!