How to Do the Romberg's Test - For Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS) and Fibromyalgia

How to Do the Romberg's Test - For Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS) and Fibromyalgia

Both Dr. Cheney and Dr. Bateman have suggested that the high frequency of positive Romberg tests they find in their ME/CFS and/or FM patients indicates that many have a deep brain injury. The Canadian Consensus Criteria (in the physical examination section) and IACFS/ME Primer both recommend that the test be done in ME/CFS.

The Romberg test measures how well the vision, vestibular input, proprioception work together to maintain your balance. Our eyes, the sensory receptors in our joints and muscles (proprioception), and the vestibular system in our inner ear all work together to enable us to balance.

The Romberg test is done with your eyes closed to force your vestibular and proprioception systems to maintain your balance. If one of those is not working properly you'll start to tip over during the test.

A positive Romberg Test (you fall or sway) suggests that you either have an inner ear problem, or more likely in the case of ME/CFS, a lower brain problem.

The Test

Ask the subject to stand erect with feet together and eyes closed. Stand close by as a precaution in order to stop the person from falling over and hurting him or herself.

Watch the movement of the body in relation to a perpendicular object behind the subject (corner of the room, door, window etc.).

A positive sign is noted when a swaying, sometimes irregular swaying and even toppling over occurs. The essential feature is that the patient becomes more unsteady with eyes closed.

The essential features of the test are as follows:
  1. the subject stands with feet together, eyes open and hands by the sides.
  2. the subject closes the eyes while the examiner observes for a full minute.
  3. If the subject sways or falls they have a positive Romberg's test.

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