What Is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome & Can Exercise Help?

chronic fatigue phyx you physiotherapy in port macquarie

What is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?

Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), also known as Myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME), is an illness that affects a person’s nervous system.  It is a very complex condition characterised by extreme fatigue following exertion (not relieved by sleep or rest), unrefreshing sleep and cognitive impairment. It can occur at any age and can affect children as well as adults. 

What causes Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?

There is no known cause for this condition but there have been some potential triggers that have been identified: 

  • Viral infection.
  • Genetic predisposition.
  • Physical/emotional trauma.
  • Psychological stress.
  • Immune system conditions.              

Signs and symptoms/Diagnosis?

Because CFS is a very complex, multi-system, and chronic disorder, CFS is often diagnosed through signs and symptoms. Signs and symptoms may include:

  • Problems with thinking, concentrating, memory loss, vision, clumsiness.
  • Widespread chronic pain.
  • Disrupted sleep pain or aches in the muscles, joints or head.
  • A drop in blood pressure, feeling dizzy or pale.
  • Allergies or sensitivities to light, smells, touch, sound, foods, chemicals and medications.
  • Urinary problems.
  • Sore throat.
  • Marked weight change – extreme loss or gain.
  • Inability to cope with temperature changes.

How can you improve your symptoms of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome? 

  • Addressing post-exertional malaise (PEM) symptoms
  • Post- exertional malaise is the worsening of symptoms that usually occur 12 to 48 hours after intense activity and can last for days or even weeks.
  • Activity management, also called pacing, can help balance rest and activity to avoid PEM exacerbations. 
  • There is a commonly referred to concept within CFS called creating an energy envelope. So, staying within these limits and keeping a diary of your activities may help you find your personal limits.
  • Home remedies and lifestyle changes
    • Limiting or eliminating your caffeine intake can help you sleep better and ease disrupted sleep. You should limit or avoid nicotine and alcohol too.
    • Including sleep strategies: No napping throughout the day, sleeping in a dark room, creating a sleep schedule, and no screen time before bed! 
  • Pharmaceutical management
  • Exercise therapy!
    • There is evidence to suggest that exercise therapy can be an effective treatment option in terms of the management and improvement of symptoms, providing that exercise is prescribed by an exercise professional.

How can exercise improve symptoms of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?

  • A study conducted by Larun et al., (2019) examined eight different studies with 1518 participants that aimed to find out whether exercise therapy can help people with chronic fatigue syndrome in terms of reducing symptoms such as fatigue, sleep quality, quality of life, pain, and physical independence.
    • They concluded that participants who have light intensity exercise therapy probably will have less fatigue, improved sleep quality, reduced pain, and improved quality of life. There was no evidence to suggest that exercise therapy may worsen symptoms, provided that the exercise therapy was individualised to the specific person needing treatment. 
  • Another study by Vanness et al., (2003) aimed to classify the subtypes of chronic fatigue syndrome through exercise testing. 
    • They concluded that resistance training at a light intensity may be beneficial through improving muscular fitness, which can reduce fatigue, improve quality of life and make activities of daily living seem less exhausting!
  • Finally, Guymer & Clauw (2002) suggested that stretching and mobility exercise performed daily is beneficial for individuals with chronic fatigue syndrome and similar conditions.
    • They suggested that stretching can lead to improvements in perceived fatigue, mobility and improved functional capacity within activities of daily living. 

How can we help you?

  • Here at Phyx You, we can help you through providing education regarding your condition, and help to create strategies to assist you in the management of your chronic fatigue. 
  • We can help develop strategies regarding improved sleeping methods, and how to set out a pacing plan or energy envelope to help you identify and find your personal limit before experiencing post exertional malaise. 
  • We can provide and deliver an individualised exercise program that is specific to you! 

Here at PhyxYou we will strive to help you to manage your fatigue. Through our thorough examination, we will be able to help educate you regarding the management of your condition, and supply you with an individualized exercise program specific to you. 

This way we can work to improve the symptoms you may be experiencing from chronic fatigue syndrome. Book today and reap the benefits!

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