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Disoriented person laying on ground as if they they just lost their balance

Clumsy Is As Clumsy Does!

I have always been clumsy, and I have the scars to prove it! I learned a long time ago that I could either laugh about it or cry about it. Most of the time, I laugh! Who else has torn their knee meniscus running down a hall? Anyone broken a toe running up two stairs? How about a face plant falling off of a sidewalk?? Turned an ankle rolling off your shoes?

Yes, all of these have happened to me and more. I’m very thankful that my parents did not name me Grace!

Rheumatoid arthritis and balance

A not-so-hidden side effect of RA/RD is balance issues. Before I was diagnosed with RA, I noticed an increase in my balance issues. Several years after diagnosis, I spoke with my rheumatologist about this. I learned that balance problems are common with RA patients. So I started paying attention to when the balance problems started and how I felt disease-wise at that time. Surprise, surprise, balance was worse when I was in a flare.

Sometimes, a shift in balance is my first indication that a flare is imminent. Last weekend, I woke up and could barely make it to the door to let my dogs out. My son even noticed my balance issues. I spent the weekend in my jammies and either in bed or on the couch. After two full days of sleep and rest, the balance improved as did my RA symptoms.

Listen to your body

We get so tired of having to listen to our bodies. However, it’s critically important that we do. Our doctors need to know about balance issues to determine if a referral is necessary. Sometimes, we require an assessment by a neurologist. Other times, we require better, more supportive shoes.

Having grown up in the south, I went barefoot from April through mid-October. Now, I find that it hurts to be barefoot. And I fall more if I am barefoot. What’s a girl to do? After much looking, I have found cute, supportive sandals and slides that I can wear (Alegria and Vionic are my favorite brands). I also try to take my time and be more aware of my surroundings.

Hearing and vision affects balance too

Did you know that hearing and vision can affect your balance as well? Annual eye and hearing exams are recommended for RA/RD patients. Because of early ear trauma, I am now wearing hearing aids. I am only 57 and feel I’m too young for this!

However, I did not realize how much I wasn’t hearing. Hearing better has made me more aware of where I am in space. I’m not bumping into walls as much. Vision is also very important. If I don’t have my contacts in or my glasses on, I run into everything!

With a few modifications and aids, we can make a difference in our balance despite RA/RD.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The RheumatoidArthritis.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

  • Disney1962
    1 month ago

    I’ve been using an elliptical. I think it’s helped a lot with giving me some additional strength of movement without stressing my joints. My last test results weren’t good or very good but they were satisfactory. I do take Enbrel once a week. And I’m doing a light workout 2 times a week. With all this said there are days where I just don’t even feel like getting up to go to work but you got to do what you got to do and stay ahead of ra as best you can. Wishing everyone a good day and a better tomorrow

  • ua7fbc
    1 month ago

    So glad you brought this up. I have been saying for the last few years…. I can wear a hat – but not ride a broom…… Literally fell off a chair at a business here in town….. (I went to get up – the chair leg broke. could not catch myself and sprawled……….) So many little things while walking dog. getting in and out of car….. standing in church. steps. etc. I have learned sometimes laughing at myself is the best medicine……

  • Kelly Dabel moderator
    1 month ago

    Love your sense of humor ua7fbc. Light-hearted smiles will certainly take you far. You are not alone here. We appreciate you sharing and being part of our community. Best, Kelly, Rheumatoidarthritis.net Team Member

  • Diann400
    1 month ago

    Been in remission for long time now with Ms . A year ago this past May I woke up to many of the symptoms I had with Ms .Balance dropping things numbness tingling . One big difference was both sides of my body Instead of one side and pain . Several months later diagnosed with Ra. . My life changed quickly . Many tears was blessed with remission of ms and now this. I am feeling better my feet ankles knees are much better but the hands still give me much problems especially my dominant hand. Scares me to be more crippled in that hand . Now juicing celery advice from very healthy 90 plus year old who says his Ra is gone
    He drinks fresh organic juiced celery juice 16oz each morning 20 min to half hour before coffee or food. Said will take 3 to 4 months to see big change. I must say its day 5 and I am much more energetic. I take Methotrexate 8 of them and folic acid 6 days a week . I would like to get off this med. Will continue to take it but I am hoping for miracle

  • Jannyann
    1 month ago

    Thank you for your post on balance issues. I’ve had physical therapy to work on my balance, stemming from a bulging and also herniated disks. But even before my back issues, I noticed my balance off sometimes. I drop glasses, so now I use plastic. I leaned down to give my kitty belly rubs and upon getting up, did a little stumble.

  • Kelly Dabel moderator
    1 month ago

    Glad this article was helpful to you Jannyann. That’s great that you are going to PT to work on your balance. Have you felt it make a difference? Wishing you some relief ahead and sweet opportunities to cuddle your kitty. Best, Kelly, Rheumatoidarthritis.net Team Member

  • Jo J
    1 month ago

    I find things miraculously falling out of my hands when I am gripping firmly! And, when my ankles are swollen, my proprioception in my feet is garbage! I stumble over nothing! And find myself shuffling my feet until I figure out my center of gravity and a point of balance. These symptoms were all present prior to diagnosis and show up during flares.

  • Kelly Dabel moderator
    1 month ago

    Thank you for sharing your experiences Jo J. You are not alone here. I know many here in our community can relate to the frustration of losing grip when holding something. Wishing you some relief ahead. Best, Kelly, Rheumatoidarthritis.net Team Member

  • SoapLady
    1 month ago

    Thank you for posting this. I knew I had gotten clumsier but didn’t know balance issues were related to my RA. In one year, I fell twice, breaking the same ankle each time. Then, I fell and tore up my knee. Good grief!

  • Kelly Dabel moderator
    1 month ago

    Glad this article was helpful to you SoapLady. So sorry to hear that you broke your ankle twice! You are certainly not alone here. We appreciate you sharing and being part of our community. Best, Kelly, Rheumatoidarthritis.net Team Member

  • Cynthia Ventura moderator
    1 month ago

    I too am extremely clumsy. I always have been, like you, tearing meniscus, spraining ankles and bumping into everything. I can’t remember a time growing up when I wasn’t bruised and battered or walking with the aid of crutches. But my clumsiness has increased with the onset of my RA and, like you, is worse when in a flare.

    Because of the effects of RA my feet are a mess. So my rheumy sent me off to a foot doctor. He x-rayed my feet and verified the mess I knew they were. He recommended I visit a local footwear store where the owners have been in the business of helping people with serious foot problems for close to 50 years.

    I saw the owner who recommended orthotics. I was already wearing a very supportive pair of Merrell MQM Flex hiking shoes so to save me money he used the existing removable footbed and created custom built orthotics. With my input he tweaked them that day and I have been wearing them ever since. They have made a profound difference in my gait and foot comfort also my clumsiness issue. The modified footbed orthotic is removable so I can utilize them in boots, shoes, etc.

    I was surprised how inexpensive this option can be compared to ordering original custom orthotics. I recommend others look into this option and find a shoe shop similar to mine who can perform this for you. If anyone lives in the central NJ or Southhampton Pennsylvania outside Philadelphia I’m happy to share the stores information.

  • Mary Sophia Hawks moderator author
    1 month ago

    CynthiaV, thank you for your comments My Alegria shoes have removable foot beds that mold to my feet. They make a big difference in my balance.
    Joy to you,
    Mary Sophia
    Rheumatoidarthritis.net moderator/author

  • Lawrence 'rick' Phillips moderator
    1 month ago

    I am like a weble people walking around. My wife said I had to go see a Physical therapist to see if my balance issues could be improved. He sent me home with a note that said no (I am not teasing). I liked that response so much I wobbled straight home to give it to her.

    Giving her that note may have been a mistake. 🙂

  • Mary Sophia Hawks moderator author
    1 month ago

    Rick, love your comments!! I have felt like a weeble wobble, except I do fall down!
    Joy to you,
    Mary Sophia
    RheumatoidArthritis.net moderator/author

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