Physiotherapy Can Deal With Chronic Fatigue

Physiotherapy Can Deal With Chronic Fatigue

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Chronic fatigue syndrome is a devastating and complex disorder. People with this have overwhelming fatigue and a host of other symptoms that are not improved by bed rest and that can get worse after physical activity or mental exertion. They often function at a substantially lower level of activity than they were capable of before they became ill.
Besides severe fatigue, other symptoms of Chronic Fatigue include muscle pain, impaired memory or mental concentration, insomnia, and post-exertion malaise lasting more than 24 hours. In some cases, CFS can persist for years.
It has not as yet been identified what causes CFS, and there are no tests to diagnose it. Even more so, because many illnesses have fatigue as a symptom, doctors need to take care to rule out other conditions, which may be treatable.

Problems faced by CFS include:

  • the changing and unpredictable symptoms
  • a decrease in stamina that interferes with activities of daily life
  • memory and concentration problems that seriously hurt work or school performance
  • loss of independence, livelihood, and economic security
  • alterations in relationships with partners, family members, and friends
  • worries about raising children

Feelings of anger, guilt, anxiety, isolation and abandonment are common in CFS patients.

The fatigue of CFS is accompanied by characteristic illness symptoms lasting at least 6 months. These symptoms include:

  • increased malaise (extreme exhaustion and sickness) following physical activity or mental exertion
  • problems with sleep
  • difficulties with memory and concentration
  • persistent muscle pain
  • joint pain (without redness or swelling)
  • headache
  • tender lymph nodes in the neck or armpit
  • sore throat

The symptoms listed above are the symptoms used to diagnose CFS. However, many CFS patients and patients in general may experience other symptoms, including:

  • difficulty maintaining an upright position, dizziness, balance problems or fainting
  • allergies or sensitivities to foods, odors, chemicals, medications, or noise
  • irritable bowel
  • chills and night sweats
  • visual disturbances (sensitivity to light, blurring, eye pain)
  • depression or mood problems (irritability, mood swings, anxiety, panic attacks)

If you think you suffer from CFS, your best bet to getting any better is Physical Therapy. Physical therapy begins by assessing the patient’s current health status to see if signs of deconditioning exist. If so, you are suggested to start with a strengthening program and then progressing to activities that test the cardiovascular system. 
Physical therapy management of CFS is focused on progressing from minimal activity to 30 minutes of continuous exercise during periods of remission, always focusing on gentle, graded, flexible exercise that is monitored continuously. Monitoring vital signs and assessing fatigue levels using a 5-point scale during exercise and activities is also a part of it. Educate yourself about the syndrome, the importance of exercise and how to pace oneself in everyday activities to avoid fatigue and relapse is a key component in the management of CFS.

Graded exercise therapy (GET) has been shown to be a more effective treatment option than stretching and relaxation exercises for individuals with CFS, while all the above options are important aspects of care for the individual. GET results are still variable and will benefit from further research to determine effects on individuals with CFS.

For further information, feel free to contact a physiotherapist with any of your aches, pains and concerns.