Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)

It is estimated that over one million Americans suffer from chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) or myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME). CFS/ME is a serious, debilitating, typically lifelong illness.

A person living with chronic fatigue suffers with:

  • chronic pain
  • extreme fatigue
  • flu-like symptoms

These symptoms make it hard to function day and night.

Physical exercise, or exertion of any kind, such as brushing the teeth, cooking a meal, or carrying a child, make symptoms worse. Even when a person with CFS/ME is resting, they often have ongoing pain and discomfort. The disease affects multiple body systems and finding relief from the symptoms is nearly impossible.

The Cause of CFS/ME Is Unknown

There are no approved drug therapies or treatments for ME and, at best, doctors offer drug treatment to manage certain symptoms. According to the Phoenix Rising website, about 25% of the people living with CFS are home or bedridden.

Often, patients suffer in silence and slowly become depressed, as they await the proper diagnosis, treatment, and care. Doctors and researchers are just beginning to discover approaches to definitively diagnose and treat this mysterious disease.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a debilitating disorder characterized by extreme fatigue or tiredness that doesn’t go away with rest and can’t be explained by an underlying medical condition. CFS can also be referred to as myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME) or systemic exertion intolerance disease (SEID).

The cause of chronic fatigue syndrome is unknown, although there are many theories — ranging from viral infections to psychological stress. Some experts believe chronic fatigue syndrome might be triggered by a combination of factors.

There’s no single test to confirm a diagnosis of chronic fatigue syndrome. You may need a variety of medical tests to rule out other health problems that have similar symptoms. Treatment for chronic fatigue syndrome focuses on symptom relief.

What is the best treatment for chronic fatigue?
“One of the only proven therapies is cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and graded exercise therapy (GET),” says Miller. In 2011, researchers from the UK published a study in The Lancet, called PACE: comparison of adaptive pacing therapy, CBT, GET, and specialist medical care for CFS.
What does a CFS crash feel like?
Some people with CFS/ME “crash” – experience a period of immobilizing physical and/or mental fatigue. This often happens when a person is “overloaded” physically, mentally, or emotionally. Some people with CFS have virus-like symptoms. They feel “unwell” and feverish, have a sore throat and swollen lymph glands.
Is CFS a mental illness?
About half of people with chronic fatigue syndrome develop depression in the months and years after their illness starts. However, available evidence indicates that chronic fatigue syndrome is not a psychiatric illness. Rather, it appears to be a physical illness that leads to depression in some people.
What are the 3 types of fatigue?
There are three types of fatigue: transient, cumulative, and circadian:
  • Transient fatigue is acute fatigue brought on by extreme sleep restriction or extended hours awake within 1 or 2 days.
  • Cumulative fatigue is fatigue brought on by repeated mild sleep restriction or extended hours awake across a series of days.
What supplements should I take for chronic fatigue?
  • Energy: Carnitine, CoQ10, creatine, D-ribose, magnesium malate, NADH, SAM-e, vitamin B12.
  • Immune function: Carnitine, CoQ10, DHEA, lysine, Rhodiola, theanine.
  • Pain and tenderness: Lysine. …
  • Sleep: Melatonin, valerian.
  • Mood problems: DHEA, folic acid, lysine.
Does CFS shorten your life?
In the ten years following wave one of the study, 12.5% of the patients in the CFS group had died compared to just 10.6% of the control group.
Does CFS weaken your immune system?
People with CFS sometimes have weakened immune systems, but doctors don’t know whether this is enough to cause the disorder. People with CFS can also sometimes have abnormal hormone levels.
Does CFS get worse with age?
Symptoms are usually most severe in the first year or two. Thereafter, the symptoms typically stabilize, then persist chronically, wax and wane or improve. For some people with ME/CFS, however, symptoms can get worse over time.
Is CFS an autoimmune disease?
ME/CFS shares some features of autoimmune illnesses (diseases in which the immune system attacks healthy tissues in its own body, like in rheumatoid arthritis). For example, both ME/CFS and most autoimmune diseases are more common in women and both are characterized by increased inflammation.
How do you fight chronic fatigue?
How to Combat Fatigue
  1. Eliminate sugar and processed or packaged foods. Eat a candy bar and your energy will usually plummet soon after. …
  2. Reduce or eliminate caffeine and alcohol. …
  3. Get 7 – 9 hours of sleep nightly. …
  4. Exercise. …
  5. Find ways to relax and reset your mind.
How can I boost my energy level?
9 tips to boost your energy — naturally
  1. Control stress. Stress-induced emotions consume huge amounts of energy. …
  2. Lighten your load. One of the main reasons for fatigue is overwork. …
  3. Exercise. Exercise almost guarantees that you’ll sleep more soundly. …
  4. Avoid smoking. …
  5. Restrict your sleep. …
  6. Eat for energy. …
  7. Use caffeine to your advantage. …
  8. Limit alcohol.
What foods help chronic fatigue?
Can what I eat help CFS/ME?
  • Potatoes, bread, rice, pasta, and other cereals, especially wholegrain provide fiber and energy. …
  • Fruit and vegetables. …
  • Beans, pulses, fish, meat, and eggs. …
  • Dairy and alternatives. …
  • Fluid.

Signs and symptoms may include:

  • Fatigue
  • Loss of memory or concentration
  • Sore throat
  • Enlarged lymph nodes in your neck or armpits
  • Unexplained muscle or joint pain
  • Headaches
  • Unrefreshing sleep
  • Extreme exhaustion lasting more than 24 hours after physical or mental exercise


People who have chronic fatigue syndrome appear to be hypersensitive to even normal amounts of exercise and activity.

Why this occurs in some people and not others is still unknown. Some people may be born with a predisposition for the disorder, which is then triggered by a combination of factors. Potential triggers include:

  • Viral infections. Because some people develop chronic fatigue syndrome after having a viral infection, researchers question whether some viruses might trigger the disorder. Suspicious viruses include Epstein-Barr virus, human herpesvirus 6 and mouse leukemia viruses. No conclusive link has yet been found.
  • Immune system problems. The immune systems of people who have chronic fatigue syndrome appear to be impaired slightly, but it’s unclear if this impairment is enough to actually cause the disorder
  • Hormonal imbalances. People who have chronic fatigue syndrome also sometimes experience abnormal blood levels of hormones produced in the hypothalamus, pituitary glands, or adrenal glands. But the significance of these abnormalities is still unknown.

Risk factors

Factors that may increase your risk of chronic fatigue syndrome include:

  • Age. Chronic fatigue syndrome can occur at any age, but it most commonly affects people in their 40s and 50s.
  • Sex. Women are diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome much more often than men, but it may be that women are simply more likely to report their symptoms to a doctor.
  • Stress. Difficulty managing stress may contribute to the development of chronic fatigue syndrome.


Possible complications of chronic fatigue syndrome include:

  • Depression
  • Social isolation
  • Lifestyle restrictions
  • Increased work absences

Benefits of Massage Chronic Fatigue Syndrome- CFS

A full body massage session can also help with chronic fatigue syndrome because it can promote nerve and muscle relaxation. The main purpose of massage therapy is to calm, relax, and soothe your body, especially if you are under stress or in pain. Prolonged stress can increase symptoms and the severity of CFS. Massage can be successfully used as a complementary treatment for chronic fatigue syndrome. Gentle Swedish massage is beneficial for relaxing the body and mind of people with chronic illness.

Bodywork for chronic fatigue syndrome can bring comfort by:

  • relaxing the body systems
  • supporting digestion
  • encouraging the parasympathetic nervous system response

Relaxation massages using slow, soothing techniques can slowly increase the circulation of blood and lymph to the muscles and allow for faster muscle repair. As muscles recover, they become more flexible, have more range of motion, and less pain. The decrease in pain can lead to improved sleep patterns, and overall less stress and a reduced tendency toward depression.

Massage is one of the most recommended types of alternative therapies to treat the symptoms of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. … A massage is also a good option for patients with CFS who are not well enough to exercise because physical manipulations of the skin and muscles help promote good circulation.

Fatigue is an ailment that probably every person has experienced at one time or another.  Although common, it is not always a cause for concern since it often goes away after some rest and relaxation.  The problem is that fatigue can be a symptom of a disorder known as CFS or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.  People who suffer from CFS frequently complain of extended periods of extreme fatigue with seemingly no perceivable cause or reason.

Symptoms of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome include prolonged and unexplained feelings of tiredness, muscle and joint pain, headaches, sore throat, insomnia, painful lymph nodes, forgetfulness, and impaired mental functions.  Although the disorder is experienced by both sexes, it is more common among women aged 40 to 50.  Over one million people are estimated to have this disorder in the U.S. alone.  To this day, there is no known cure for it, although symptoms can be treated.

Massage is one of the most recommended types of alternative therapies to treat the symptoms of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.  It has proven beneficial and effective for some patients in minimizing anxiety and restlessness and in improving sleep quality.  A massage is also a good option for patients with CFS who are not well enough to exercise because physical manipulations of the skin and muscles help promote good circulation.

Another common massage technique used for the treatment of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is deep tissue massage.  This technique targets the muscle tissues, which are located several layers below the skin surface.  Deep tissue massage utilizes increased pressure and slower movements in order to stimulate the capillaries found in the soft tissues.  It is also very effective in improving blood circulation.

Probably one of the most elusive aspects of massage therapy, when used to treat chronic fatigue, is its intangible effect on the overall feeling of well-being of the patient.  When used with the right techniques, massage can be very helpful as means to treat the symptoms of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and improve the physical and mental state of the patient.  It can also be used to complement other treatments involving TCM, such as acupuncture and herbal remedies.

Further Reading



*Disclaimer: This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting with a qualified healthcare provider.
Please consult your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your condition.
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