SEARCH

SEARCH BY CITATION

Keywords:

  • accidental falls;
  • chronic pain;
  • fibromyalgia;
  • gait;
  • nursing;
  • postural balance;
  • quality of life

rutledge d.n., martinez a., traska t.k. & rose d.j. (2012) Fall experiences of persons with fibromyalgia over 6 months. Journal of Advanced Nursing69(2), 435–448. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2648.2012.06026.x

Abstract

Aims.  To describe circumstances and consequences of falls occurring among persons with fibromyalgia who had recent falls.

Background.  Fibromyalgia is a common widespread pain condition that has been linked to increased fall-risk. No published research described experiences of falling in persons with fibromyalgia. Prior to development of fall-risk reduction interventions, it is essential to understand the context of falls and fall experiences in persons with fibromyalgia.

Design.  Descriptive longitudinal study.

Methods.  The study took place during 2009; data were collected via fall diaries and interviews in 18 US women ages 21–69 years.

Results.  Over 6 months, 17 of 18 participants fell or had a near-fall. For the 15 women with 6-month fall-prevalence data, median number of falls was 2, with 3 near-falls. Most fall experiences contained intrinsic and extrinsic contributory factors. Participants reported engaging in various activities prior to falls/near-falls. A substantial minority (32–48%) experienced severe symptoms (pain, fatigue, stiffness) at the time. Most falls/near-falls occurred in homes during the day; one resulted in injury. Themes that were identified included the following: always being careful or generally cautious; fear of losing control of one’s body, especially related to balance; desire to continue activities counterbalanced with frustration at not being able to because of fear of falling; perception of having become clumsy.

Conclusions.  Nurses caring for persons with fibromyalgia should assess for potential fall-risk factors and offer plans for individualized fall-prevention strategies.