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.
Treatment Of Comorbid Conditions
CFS can be better addressed if certain other underlying conditions are treated.
- Sleep disturbances: Poor sleep can be treated with lifestyle changes such as sleep hygiene and, in some cases, other specific interventions.
- Depression: Depression is common in CFS and can be treated with certain antidepressants, like sertraline or with psychotherapy .
- Pain: Chronic pain can be treated with a variety of over-the-counter or prescription treatments, as recommended by your physician.
*Caution about unproven treatments: Avoid treatments that are not supported by evidence, such as antivirals, immunosuppressants, stimulants, elimination diets, and amalgam extractions, as these may have side effects and minimal benefits.
Smiling Through Pain: Living On
Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: Differences
Chronic pain and fatigue are common symptoms of both fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome. The difference is that, in fibromyalgia, fatigue often takes a backseat to debilitating muscle pain. In chronic fatigue syndrome, people have an overwhelming lack of energy, but also can experience some pain.
Some more important differences between the two include:
- What prompted the condition. Many people diagnosed with fibromyalgia fatigue report that their symptoms followed some sort of trauma a physical injury or an emotional shock. On the other hand, chronic fatigue syndrome appears to spring from a viral infection like mononucleosis or influenza.
- Distinct pain sites. People are diagnosed with fibromyalgia fatigue if they feel tenderness or pain in at least 11 of 18 distinct locations on their bodies. People with chronic fatigue syndrome do not have these pain sites.
- Inflammation. People with chronic fatigue syndrome often complain of fever, swollen glands, and other signs of inflammation. Doctors find no evidence of inflammatory response in patients with fibromyalgia fatigue.
- Sleep. Although chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia are both associated with disrupted REM sleep, a recent study from Japan found key differences in other sleep disturbances between people with CFS alone and those with CFS and fibromyalgia.
Fibromyalgia and CFS: Similarities
Treating Fibromyalgia Fatigue and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
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Is There Any Treatment
There is currently no cure for CFS. The therapies for this disorder are directed at symptom relief. It is important to maintain good health by eating a balanced diet and getting adequate rest, exercising regularly without causing more fatigue, and pacing oneself because too much stress can aggravate the symptoms of CFS. Working with a physician to develop a program that provides the greatest benefits also will help in reducing frustration with the illness.
Non-pharmacological therapies include acupuncture, aquatic therapy, chiropractic, cranial-sacral, light exercise, massage, self-hypnosis, stretching, tai chi, therapeutic touch and yoga. Certain psychotherapies such as cognitive behavioral therapy also have shown promise for facilitating patient coping and for alleviating some of the distress associated with CFS.
In pharmacological therapy there is a variety of medications that can relieve specific symptoms. It is important to begin with low doses and to escalate the dosage gradually as necessary.
Some CFS patients may also find it therapeutic to meet with other people who have this illness, and this can be accomplished by joining a local CFS support group. Support groups are not appropriate for everyone, and may actually add to their stress rather than relieving it.
What Is The Outlook
The long-term outlook varies from person to person. Although some people recover or have a long period of remission, many will need to adapt to living with /CFS. The outlook is better in children and young people than in adults.
CFS affects everyone differently and its impact varies widely. For some people symptoms still allow them to carry out some activities, whereas for others they cause severe impacts on different aspects of the lives of people with CFS and their families and carers, including activities of daily living, family life, social life, emotional well-being, work and education.
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Chronic Fatigue Syndrome And Similar Disorders
Chronic fatigue syndrome encompasses a wide range of symptoms that affect most systems in the body, so doctors may easily confuse it for another disorder. Examples of the many conditions that may cause similar symptoms include anemia, hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, diabetes, cancer, celiac disease, obstructive sleep apnea, and inflammatory bowel disease.
Chronic fatigue syndrome may look especially similar to hypersomnia, narcolepsy, fibromyalgia, depression, and obstructive sleep apnea.
What Causes Chronic Fatigue
The most common causes of fatigue are chronic medical or psychiatric illnesses, accounting for 70% of chronic fatigue in the general population. However, at least 30% of the time no specific cause is found for chronic fatigue.8
In population-based studies, it has been very difficult to separate idiopathic chronic fatigue that has been associated with chronic depression and other chronic mood disturbances. Depression-associated fatigue versus pure fatigue was evaluated in a report that prospectively followed 1,177 primary care patients, with 3 separate measurements of fatigue and psychiatric symptoms.9 The depression and fatigue scores correlated closely over time. They replicated previous findings of a strong correlation between fatigue and psychiatric morbidity, but also identified a group of patients with persistent, independent fatigue, which was not associated with any increase in psychological morbidity. This persistent, independent fatigue state was uncommon and found in only 2.5% of the population.
In a population survey of more than 10,000 adolescents, 13 to 18 years old, chronic fatigue was found in 3%, of which one-half had associated depression or anxiety.11 Although the prevalence is lower than in adults, more than half the adolescents with chronic fatigue had severe or very severe disability. Comorbid mood correlated with greater disability and health service utilization.
Assessment of Chronic Fatigue
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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.
What Else Could It Be
The symptoms of ME/CFS are similar to those of other conditions.
If you think you may have ME/CFS it’s important to see a GP to make sure you get a correct diagnosis. A GP should also be able to refer you to a ME/CFS specialist if they think it would help you.
Page last reviewed: 29 October 2021 Next review due: 29 October 2024
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You Wont Win Every Battle
My metaphorical mother-in-law is a formidable character. There will definitely be bad times that in CFS-speak we call relapse. When this happens, I cant stress enough the power of accepting defeat as the first step towards recovery. For my own sake, I use these times to drink a lot of tea with the MIL, reassure her that everything will be OK, and convince her to watch Downton Abbey with me until shes ready to bury the hatchet.
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Articles On Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome is more than feeling tired all the time. It comes with a lot of other symptoms that can make it hard to handle daily life. Even simple things like walking to the mailbox or writing a letter can make it worse. The fatigue and symptoms can last 6 months, or can go on for years. Sleep and rest donât make it better, either.
A doctor can help relieve your symptoms, but first you need to get diagnosed.
If you have ME/CFS, youâll have these three âcoreâ symptoms:
- Reduced ability to do usual activities for six months or more because of fatigue
- Worsening of symptoms . after usual physical or mental activity
- Trouble falling asleep or staying asleep
Along with the three symptoms, you must have one of these for a diagnosis of chronic fatigue syndrome:
- Problems with thinking and memory
- Worsening of symptoms while standing or sitting upright you might feel lightheaded, dizzy or weak, and you may have blurred vision or see spots.
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Build Peace And Relax
CFS can be debilitating both physically and mentally. Suffering from persistent exhaustion, reduced brain cognition, chronic muscle and joint pain, stress, and even guilt takes a toll on the body, and psyche.
Long-term stress control and relaxation must be a vital portion of any protocol used to overcome chronic fatigue syndrome. While seemingly impossible, its imperative that sufferers of CFS do their best to effectively manage stress, and rest.
The Power of Rest
Rest means more than just sleep. Dedicate one day per week when you dont have any responsibilities or commitments. Truly commit to a full day of rest. This gives your body and mind a much-needed respite helping to fight stress, anxiety and exhaustion. Its also important during the week, if you are having a particularly difficult day, to not overtax yourself.
While regular exercise supports wellness and helps to diminish stress, individuals with chronic fatigue syndrome need to exercise at a controlled intensity. High-intensity workouts can leave you drained for several days.
Exercise therapy has been shown to help with fatigue, mental clarity and depression in patients with chronic fatigue syndrome. According to a study released in the European Journal of Clinical Investigation, individuals with CFS were recommended to perform aerobic activities, at the clinic twice per month, in combination with at-home exercises for roughly 5-15 minutes in duration, five days per week.
I Don’t Have Insurance How Can The Affordable Care Act Help Me
If you’re uninsured or have been denied coverage in the past for ME/CFS, the Health Insurance Marketplace may be able to provide you with access to affordable coverage. With health insurance plans in the Marketplace, you can no longer be refused coverage just because you have a pre-existing health condition. Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program also can’t refuse to cover you or charge you more because of a health condition. They also can’t charge women more than men. Learn more about the Affordable Care Act and the Health Insurance Marketplace at Healthcare.gov.
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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.
Who Is At Risk For Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Because the cause of CFS is not known, its hard to know what might put someone at risk for getting the condition. However, certain factors are seen more often in people with CFS. These factors include:
- Gender. CFS happens up to 4 times more often in women than in men.
- Age. CFS commonly affects middle-aged people, but people of any age can get it.
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Talking With Your Doctor About Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
If you are experiencing fatigue on an ongoing basis despite getting adequate sleep, talk to your doctor. While you could be facing chronic fatigue syndrome, many illnesses ranging from obstructive sleep apnea to iron-deficiency anemia can cause fatigue. Your doctor will need to ask questions and order tests to determine what is causing fatigue in your personal situation. Preparing for your appointment can help it go more smoothly.
Failure To Identify The Cause
If youve gone through the barrage of testing and were unable to determine any direct causal factors, it doesnt mean that your chronic fatigue cannot be dealt with or improved. Those that are unable to identify the direct cause may need to do some self-experimentation to find out what actually helps raise energy levels and ultimately what methods you can use to overcome the condition. You dont need to accept the reality of functioning in sloth-mode for your entire life.
Guessing the cause: Even though you may have ruled out many medical conditions that could be causing the problem, it is important to still attempt to figure out what factors may be contributing to your chronic fatigue. In other words, think back to the time when the condition developed what changed in your life that may have depleted your energy.
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Change The Things You Can
No doubt, when an illness barges into your life unannounced and takes up residence, it can leave you feeling angry, defeated, and powerless. For me, there came a point, though, where those feelings needed to take a back seat to a more constructive focus on the things I could change. For example, I could be a mom. I could take tai chi, and I could pursue a new career in writing. These are things I find enjoyable, fulfilling, and, best of all, my mother-in-law finds them quite agreeable too!
If one thing has become clear over my journey with this illness, its that we are all called to make the best of our living situations. Who knows? One day I might wake up and my metaphorical roommate may have found herself other accommodations. But, safe to say, Im not holding my breath. For today, Im happy to make the best of it and take the lessons as they come. How do you deal with chronic fatigue syndrome? Share your experiences with me!
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How Is Cfs Treated
Theres currently no specific cure for CFS.
Each person has different symptoms and therefore may require different types of treatment to manage the disorder and relieve their symptoms.
Work with your team of healthcare providers to create the best treatment plan for you. They can go over the possible benefits and side effects of the therapies with you.
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What Are The Symptoms Of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Symptoms of CFS often mimic the flu. The following are the most common symptoms of CFS. However, each person may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:
- Sensitivity to light
- Low-grade fever
The symptoms of CFS may look like other medical conditions. Always talk with your healthcare provider for a diagnosis.
What Role Do Psychological Factors Play In Cfs
A persons response to the illness is important in determining its course. Similarly, familys, friends, physicians, and co-workers responses affect how a person copes with symptoms. For example, some people react to illness by denying that it exists and underrespond to their symptoms. This may not be in their best interest, as they are likely to overexert themselves and make their symptoms worse or set unrealistically high goals that they cannot achieve, leading to depression and/or anger.
On the other hand, other people may respond to symptoms with fear and pessimism and unnecessarily limit their activities. Further problems can result from this sort of response, such as a loss of muscle tone and therefore of strength. Behavior therapists can help a person learn to cope effectively and flexibly with symptoms.
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How Is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Diagnosed
CFS diagnosis depends on two criteria:
A specific treatment for CFS has yet to be proven effective. Vitamin supplements and medicines have some benefit. Many treatments just relieve the symptoms of CFS.
Exercise And Physical Therapy
People with CFS often avoid exercise altogether as it can seem to make symptoms worse. This can lead to a sense of mistrust of ones body. For these reasons, a gradual physical activity program can be helpful. It is important to begin with activities that can be achieved. For example, if a person suffers from dizziness and loss of balance, a program of stretching exercises done from a seated or lying position would be more safe and comfortable than those that involve standing or balancing.
For many people with CFS, programs of strenuous aerobic exercise may make symptoms worse. If this is the case, daily, gentle exercise should be directed toward goals of maintaining flexibility, mobility, and accomplishment, and of gradually increasing strength and endurance .
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