The problem with M.E. (Myalgic Encephalomyelitis)/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is that it has not been taken seriously by the medical profession and was classed as ‘yuppie flu’. The main symptoms are debilitating fatigue, muscle pain, and mental fogginess. The cause of chronic fatigue cannot be explained by other conditions, such as depression, and it does not improve substantially after periods of rest. There are many cases where the illness lasts three to six years, although some recover sooner and others never get better. Some people suffer recurrent bouts of ME.

Some patients also have difficulty in concentrating, short-term memory impairment, sore throats, headaches and insomnia. Some people have such severe symptoms that they are confined to bed while others only suffer fatigue when they come up against stressful situations.

There is no known cause of ME, but scientists are investigating whether it is related to a virus, stress, pollution, changes in the nervous system, or is a genetic disorder.

ME/CFS can be triggered by a stressful event or viral infection. At present, the main findings are changes in the function of the nervous system and stress hormones similar to those found in depression and anxiety disorders.

However, the relative role of psychological and biological factors remains a source of controversy.

Around 75% of ME sufferers are women, but some experts say this proportion is in line with other immune-related disorders. People on higher incomes are more likely to be recorded as having ME than low earners, but doctors believe this may be because they are more persistent in getting their condition diagnosed.

Massage Therapy and Reflexology certainly can help ease insomnia if that is a problem. This can help bring balance back but can also be very tiring so short treatments are in order. Dietary advice to include encouraging eating fresh foods and keeping a food diary where the effects of certain foods can be monitored is a good idea. Stress Management is important as is trying to gauge what amount of exercise can help and not overtire.

Working the thoracic spine to include MET to balance as well as mobilisations has been found to help in ME/CFS.

M.E. (Myalgic Encephalomyelitis) or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome presents itself in many different ways but the symptoms include:

  • Headaches
  • Intense lethargy
  • Muscular pains
  • Disturbed sleep
  • Mental confusion
  • General weakness

All sufferers of this unbearable illness appear to have upper back stiffness, either through chronic postural strain or a previous injury.

It has been suggested that this chronic stiffness leads to irritation of certain closely linked nerves known as the ‘sympathetic nervous system’ and the lymphatic vessels, which are part of the body’s natural waste disposal system.

As the body’s waste, or toxins, are not being flushed away efficiently, the M.E. sufferer is left with a clogged and toxic lymphatic system which leads to many of the symptoms described above, as well as muscular tension patterns over the upper back and a poor breathing mechanism from the chronic stiffness.

Osteopathy alone cannot ‘cure’ M.E. but it can reduce the symptoms and help to speed up recovery. No two M.E. sufferers are the same and treatment programmes have to be tailored to the individual needs of each patient. Recovery takes time with such a chronic condition.