By Charlene Laino
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD

According to an article posted in Web MD, a small study suggests that individuals who have fibromyalgia may be prone to falls due to balance problems.

The findings suggest that people with fibromyalgia can benefit from exercises to improve balance, said Kim Dupree Jones, PhD, of Oregon Health & Science University in Portland. Jones and colleagues studied 25 middle-aged people, average age 50, with fibromyalgia and 28 healthy people in the same age group.

Over a 6-month period, those with fibromyalgia fell an average of 3.48 times versus an average of 0.15 falls in the healthy group. To read the entire article, click here.

The National Fibromyalgia Association estimates that some 10 million Americans–mostly women–have fibromyalgia, an unexplained condition characterized by chronic pain and fatigue.

The study involved only middle-aged people to preclude older age as a culprit in patients’ falls, Jones said.

The researchers used computerized balance platform testing to examine the visual, vestibular,  and somatosensory components of balance, Jones said. People with fibromyalgia scored worse in all of these areas than their healthy counterparts, she added.

On the visual aspect of the balance test, the fibromyalgia group scored an average 0.68 while the healthy group scored an average of 0.87. In all three parts, 1 represents a perfect score.

The study also showed there was no relationship between the number of medications fibromyalgia patients took and their balance scores–however, people with fibromyalgia did take substantially more medications than the healthy participants, which suggest that the possibility that medications could be a contributory factor to their falls.

Armando Miciano, MD, of the Nevada Rehabilitation Institute in Las Vegas, told WebMD that studies have shown that aerobic exercise can help to improve pain, fatigue, and depression in people with fibromyalgia.

The new findings suggest balance exercises and aerobic exercise could benefit patients, he added.

[Source: WebMD]