Balance Problems and Psoriatic Arthritis
I’m no stranger to falling. Up the steps, down the steps, even simply walking-I’ve hit the ground more times than I can even begin to count in a month's time alone.
Believe it or not, I’ve bitten the dust EVEN MORE since developing psoriatic arthritis. So this (of course) led me down the path of research. Are my ever-increasing balance problems related to my psoriatic arthritis?
Taking a tumble
The most recent tumble that got me thinking was quite a nasty one. I was feeling a little “off.” My head was a cloudy mix of brain fog and confusion and the rest of my body was responding in kind.
I became distracted, trying to make a mental list of my plan for the day. Before I knew it, my feet got all tangled up in each other. My arms didn’t respond to my brain’s slow commands and down I went. SMACK! I totally face-planted right into my nightstand. It was yet another complete wipeout.
What’s it like living with balance problems?
The combination of foot pain, brain fog, and (believe it or not) inner ear inflammation and damage all contribute to my balance problems from psoriatic arthritis.
The Journal of Rheumatology discovered strong evidence to support the fact that patients with psoriatic arthritis also experience vestibular (inner ear) damage.1,2 All of these work together to make it extra difficult to put one foot in front of the other, securely and safely.
Bruises, bruises, and even more bruises
People used to ask me what happened when they would see giant, unsightly bruises on my arms and legs. Heck, I even used to care about covering them up with long sleeves and pants.
Now, for the most part, unless they are on my face, I don’t really bother. I’ve even been asked about the “safety” of my relationship (awkward).
People make assumptions
Right or wrong, when you have obvious balance problems, people tend to make assumptions. The most obvious is that you’ve had too much to drink or even that you might be high. This becomes an especially difficult assumption to manage when I have my kids with me.
I’ve gotten more than one nasty look at the grocery store as people “assume” that I’m out with my kids, on a regular Tuesday morning, doing our grocery shopping hammered.
More ER visits
While I’ve been lucky so far. I haven’t suffered much more than a bruised body and a bruised ego due to my balance problems. Emergency room visits are a common problem for those of us that suffer with PsA related balance problems.
Every trip, tumble, or fall puts us at a much greater risk of more detrimental consequences not the least of which is broken bones and concussions. Tack on the additional medical bills that come with these visits and these seemingly simple balance problems come with a hefty price tag.
What can we do?
Other than the obvious, such as being extra careful and using accessibility aides, there isn’t much advice to offer if you also experience balance problems. Use a cane, handrails, and as always, take it slowly.
Always remember to avoid things like driving if you are feeling dizzy or confused at all. Use common sense. Of course, be sure to mention it to your doctor as it can be a sign of continued inflammation or even a symptom of other issues.
Do you have a sleep disorder (eg. insomnia, sleep apnea, RLS) in addition to your PsA?