Muscle And Joint Pain
Most people with chronic fatigue syndrome experience acute or chronic pain, stiffness and soreness in their muscles and joints. Chronic pain is one of the 10 symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome . The extent and severity of the pain depends on the pain tolerance of the sufferer. The pain is generally intermittent in nature, starts randomly and subsides on its own in time. It generally lasts for some weeks, but can even persist for months in certain cases.
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome And The Americans With Disabilities Act
The ADA does not contain a list of medical conditions that constitute disabilities. Instead, the ADA has a general definition of disability that each person must meet. A person has a disability if he/she has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, a record of such an impairment, or is regarded as having an impairment. For more information about how to determine whether a person has a disability under the ADA, see How to Determine Whether a Person Has a Disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act .
Facts About Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
- The CDC estimates up to 2.5 million Americans have ME/CFS.
- Anyone can get it, including children and teens.
- It is most common in women in their 40s and 50s.
- Women are more likely to develop it than men.
- Most cases are mild or moderate.
- About 1 in 4 people with the condition have severe symptoms.
If you have mild chronic fatigue syndrome, you can probably manage on your own. Moderate symptoms can make it hard for you to move around. For example, you might need to sleep in the afternoons.
If your symptoms are severe, the impact on your quality of life and abilities can be as bad as if you had lupus, heart disease, or rheumatoid arthritis.
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Other Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Symptoms:
Because ME/CFS is a multi-system illness, it can actually create a truly astounding set of symptoms. So whilst some regard the above list to be the core Chronic Fatigue Syndrome symptoms, there are actually many other symptoms. These include but are not limited to:
- Pain including muscle aches, migraines and headaches
- Gastrointestinal disturbance including diarrhoea, constipation and other difficulties
- Low grade fever
- Dry or sore eyes, sometimes described as pain behind or inside the eyes
- Need to urinate, often along with unquenchable thirst
- Muscle twitching described by some people as jolts or flashes
- Chills and cold hands or feet
- Strange smell sensations often described as ammonium
- Allodynia which is when your skin hurts to be touched
- Paresthesia which are sensations such as itching, numbness, tingling, burning or a feeling that something is crawling on you
- Profuse sweating
- Painful or swollen lymph nodes
- Hair loss
- Temperature or weather sensitivity
- Canker sores and infections in the mouth
Psychological Me/cfs Symptoms List
Patients are often told that they have depression or anxiety and that there is nothing wrong with them physically. However, whilst they may be experiencing depressive thoughts and anxiety, their CFS symptoms are real of course. So unfortunately, sometimes their symptoms are misattributed to a mental illness when in fact they are experiencing a real physical illness.
This however does not mean that people experiencing ME/CFS dont have co-morbid mental illness, they often do. So whilst the list of physical CFS symptoms is extensive, there can also be a range of psychological symptoms in CFS. This sometimes leads to other mental health diagnosis.
Here are some of the common psychological symptoms experienced:
- mood swings
- emotional flattening
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Other Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Symptoms
Other symptoms that may be associated with CFS/ME include:
- Dizziness, palpitations, fainting, nausea on standing or sitting upright from a lying position.
- Increased sensitivity to temperature, causing increased sweating, chills, hot flushes or feeling very cold.
- Twitching and other abnormal uncontrolled body movements.
- Flu-like symptoms, including sore throat, tender glands, nausea, chills or muscle aches.
- Intolerance to alcohol, or to certain foods or chemicals.
- Increased sensitivities, including to light, sound, touch, taste and smell.
- Pain, including pain on touch, muscle pain, headaches, eye pain, tummy pain, or joint pain.
What Is The Latest Research On Me/cfs
Today, we have a better understanding of ME/CFS, but researchers are still searching for the cause. ME/CFS is sometimes seen in members of the same family, perhaps because of a genetic link. Researchers are also testing a variety of treatments for ME/CFS, including anti-viral medications and medications that affect the immune system.
Researchers also are looking at ways to help health care providers identify and diagnose ME/CFS more quickly. HHS currently supports a study led by the Institute of Medicine to recommend improved and updated criteria to help physicians make a diagnosis of ME/CFS. The IOM’s recommendations may also guide future research.
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What Can I Do For Myself
There are some things that you can do for yourself to help you manage the condition and still live your own life. Small changes can build and make a difference to your energy and mobility. This is called self-management.
To help with this, you might try:
- Planning your time record what you do so that you can build a picture of what uses more energy and what activities you can ask others to do for you. This will help you choose what is important to you and plan your day to achieve this. It will also show you if there are patterns of symptoms and when they appear during your day
- Rest and relaxation this is very important for managing CFS/ME. You may need some support and advice on what that might mean for you in terms of your physical, mental and emotional activities for resting
- Getting support being open with people and asking for help when you need it before you are exhausted is a key approach to managing your condition. Talking about how you are feeling is important for long term health conditions because of the impact your symptoms have on the way you live your life. While you are adjusting to the diagnosis and the change in your life, it may be helpful to get outside support such as counselling or CBT. Talk to your GP about emotional support available to you.
How Is Me/cfs Diagnosed
Because many symptoms of ME/CFS are also symptoms of other illnesses or side effects of medicine, your doctor will need to do physical exams and tests to help determine if you have ME/CFS. There are no standard lab tests to diagnose ME/CFS.
If you think you may have ME/CFS, see your doctor. Your doctor may:
- Ask you about your physical and mental health.
- Do a physical exam.
- Order lab tests based on your symptoms, such as urine and blood tests, which will tell your doctor if something other than ME/CFS might be causing your symptoms.
- Order tests that check for problems found in people with ME/CFS.
- Classify you as having ME/CFS if:
- You have the main symptoms of ME/CFS, including extreme fatigue or exhaustion that does not go away and that prevents you from doing the things you want and need to do for you and your family exhaustion that comes after mental or physical exercise sleep problems and pain AND
- You have had the extreme fatigue and other symptoms for 6 months or longer AND
- You and your doctor cannot find another explanation for your symptoms.
The process to make a final diagnosis of ME/CFS can take a long time, so try to be patient. It is usually best to develop a relationship and follow up often with one doctor so that he or she can get to know you and see how you respond to treatment over time.
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Will I Still Be Able To Work With Me/cfs
Research shows that about half of people with ME/CFS work part-time or full-time jobs. For some people with ME/CFS, the ability to work is possible thanks to a supportive employer and certain workplace accommodations, including a flexible schedule, a quiet comfortable place to rest, and memory aids.
But, if you can’t work because of ME/CFS, you may be eligible for Social Security benefits. Learn more about applying for disability through the Social Security Administration.
What Are The Treatments For Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
There is no cure or approved treatment for CFS, but you may be able to treat or manage some of your symptoms. You, your family, and your health care provider should work together to decide on a plan. You should figure out which symptom causes the most problems and try to treat that first. For example, if sleep problems affect you the most, you might first try using good sleep habits. If those do not help, you may need to take medicines or see a sleep specialist.
Strategies such as learning new ways to manage activity can also be helpful. You need to make sure that you do not “push and crash.” This can happen when you feel better, do too much, and then get worse again.
Since the process of developing a treatment plan and attending to self-care can be hard if you have CFS, it is important to have support from family members and friends.
Don’t try any new treatments without talking to your health care provider. Some treatments that are promoted as cures for CFS are unproven, often costly, and could be dangerous.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
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What Are The Longer
Overall, the longer-term outlook for patients with chronic fatigue syndrome should be regarded as good, particularly if sufferers are diagnosed fairly soon after the onset of their symptoms, and are treated appropriately. However, it must be recognised that there is no quick-fix for this condition and treatment may need to last for many months. Response does vary depending on the severity of the condition and a full recovery is less likely in somebody with very severe symptoms, but the majority of people with mild to moderate symptoms will improve and many will return to relatively normal health. This will, however, require significant lifestyle change, often reducing the levels of physical activity for a period of time, including reducing intense work patterns, which can have implications both financially and academically.
Patients with chronic fatigue syndrome do sometimes experience setbacks in their condition, when their symptoms increase after a period of time. It is not always clear what the cause of a relapse is. Individuals should work with their doctor to find a suitable treatment regime that works for them.
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Symptoms From Secondary Diagnosis :
Given the large range of CFS symptoms, many of these symptoms are actually attributed to other illnesses, with patients often thinking of themselves as being particularly unlucky to have so many different things wrong with them. Often as symptoms change, a diagnosis of separate syndromes of Fibromyalgia, Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome , Multiple Chemical Sensitivities or similar syndrome is made. However, these conditions are more and more recognised as being part of the same syndrome and in essence the same illness with merely different symptoms.
Some of these are genuinely separate illnesses, however, they are often experienced by people with ME/CFS and can often resolve when recovery from CFS is made. Such conditions may also exist before or after the patient has experienced ME/CFS and include but are not limited to:
- Severe premenstrual syndrome or exacerbation of symptoms before and during period
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome
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Key Points About Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
- Chronic fatigue syndrome is characterized by profound tiredness.
- Symptoms often worsen with physical or mental activity.
- In addition to severe fatigue, symptoms include light sensitivity, headache, muscle and joint pain, difficulty concentrating, mood swings, and depression.
- Treatments may include medicines, exercise, supplements, and counseling.
The Danger Of Misattribution Of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Symptoms
With so many symptoms and so many co-morbid diagnoses, patients often experience diagnosis fatigue where they no longer get their symptoms investigated and simply see them as just another Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Symptom.
So whilst many people with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome stop panicking every time they get symptoms that look like some other major and serious disease, it is all too easy to become complacent.
Its absolutely essential that any worsening of symptoms or new symptoms be reported to your doctor so that these can be appropriately diagnosed and treated where possible.
But when you realise that CFS affects every major system of the body, including the nervous system, endocrine system, digestive system, cardiovascular system and even your cellular functions and metabolism, then its easy to see how so many symptoms and different illnesses can occur.
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General Exercise Tips For People With Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Be guided by your doctor or specialist, but general suggestions include:
- Experiment to find the type of exercise that works best for you. Choose from a range of gentle activities such as stretching, yoga, tai chi, walking and light weight training.
- Keep an activity diary so you have a long-term picture of your performance levels and factors that might impact on your symptoms.
- Stop the physical activity well before you feel any symptom flare. Pacing yourself is very important.
- Remember that the amount of exercise you can do will change from one day to the next.
- Listen to your body if you dont feel up to exercising on a particular day, dont.
- Find out as much as you can about your ME/CFS. Make sure you consult with health professionals who fully understand ME/CFS as a ‘real’ biomedical condition.
Are There Any Side
The recognised therapies of graded exercises and cognitive behavioural therapy have no side-effects, particularly if patients work with the teams that are trying to help them.
As mentioned before, there are a lot of unproven treatments offered for chronic fatigue syndrome within the private sector. Care should be taken, as it is unlikely that these treatments have been properly tested using controlled clinical trials for any side-effects that they might cause.
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How Is The Condition Treated
There are some ways to alleviate the symptoms of CFS/ME.
For some patients, cognitive behavioural therapy is prescribed, which works on the way you think and behave to help you cope with the effects of the condition.
Graded exercise therapy can be used to help sufferers after diagnosis.
Specialist trainers put patients through exercise, which raises the heart rate and helps to establish how much activity your body can cope with.
However this could soon be scrapped when the new guidelines are released, after many patients reported it made their condition worse.
Currently, there is no medication available for those who suffer with CFS/ME.
Over-the-counter painkillers can be used for muscle pain and antidepressants are sometimes useful for those who are battling with any mental symptoms.
Who Is At Risk Of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
This is a syndrome that affect both young and old people, in all continents. Reviews have shown this condition to be something with a higher prevalence and that is a worrying factor. It is estimated that 17 million people globally are suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome.
Of the worldwide stats, UK have a staggering 250 000 patients, and Scotland is sitting at about 20 000 patients according to the National Health Information Service .
These numbers are inclusive of children and adults from diverse social and ethnic groups. Women are said to be more susceptible to chronic fatigue syndrome than men. More studies might need to be done to investigate why.
What Are The Symptoms Of Me/cfs
The most common symptom is ongoing, unexplained overwhelming tiredness or fatigue which worsens after exercise or mental effort. This is known as post-exertional malaise . The level of activity that triggers PEM will vary from person to person and can depend on how severe their condition is. PEM is sometimes delayed and can last for a few days. A more serious relapse can last for weeks or months.
A common misconception is that people with ME/CFS have ‘chronic fatigue and are just very tired. Persistent and profound fatigue is just one symptom of ME/CFS.
Other symptoms may include:
Some people may experience only mild symptoms, but others may develop more severe symptoms.
Severe Or Very Severe Cfs/me
If you have severe or very severe CFS/ME, you will need more frequent reviews and increased support and care. You should also be referred:
- To a physiotherapist or occupational therapist working in an CFS specialist team for support on developing energy management plans.
- To a dietician with a special interest in CFS.
The process and pace of any CBT should be adjusted to meet your needs. This might include shorter, less frequent sessions and longer-term goals.
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Where Can I Get Support
Even in its mildest form, chronic fatigue can have a significant emotional and financial impact on your life. A lack of understanding and awareness about CFS/ME means patients can experience disbelief, and even discrimination, from friends, family, health and social care professionals and employers.
People need wider support in order to continue to manage aspects of their life. Information on entitlements to welfare benefits, accessing health and social care and others sources of support for patients and carers are available from Action for M.E.
Action for M.E. has a number of booklets that may be useful for people living with CFS/ME, their families and their health professionals. They also offer resources and services for children and young people affected by chronic fatigue and their families.