Chronic Fatigue Syndrome – How it Tires Patients

Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is a long-term complicated disorder characterized by severe mental and physical exhaustion which cannot be explained by any underlying medical condition. The extreme fatigue may worsen with mental or physical activity, but does not get better with rest. The condition makes it difficult or impossible to perform one’s day-to-day activities.

The exact causative factor of CFS is still unknown, though several theories – ranging from psychological pressure to viral infections – try to explain the cause. It is also believed that CFS might be stimulated by a combination of factors.

CFS is also known as myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME) or systemic exertion intolerance disease (SEID). It cannot be diagnosed by a single test. A variety of medical tests have to be performed to eliminate other health issues that have symptoms of the like. CFS is treated by focusing on relieving the symptoms such as fatigue, sore throat, headaches, loss of concentration or memory, unrefreshing sleep, unexplained joint or muscle pain, enlarged lymph nodes in the armpits or neck, and extreme fatigue following mental or physical exercise.

A new study recently published in the Journal of Pain Research has found the way in which CFS makes patients weary. The researchers explain that the disorder leads the body to magnify fatigue signals linked with physical activity, and this causes some patients to get exhausted just by simple physical activities like walking across the room. This makes their life difficult for them.

Dr. Roland Staud, the study’s author, who is a professor of rheumatology and clinical immunology at the University of Florida, College of Medicine, says that CFS patients are actually perceiving muscle metabolites (compounds generated when energy is spent) while they are resting, but they are not supposed to be. Normally, one doesn’t sense his muscle metabolites when he is resting.

When one is involved in physical activities, his muscles produces metabolites like lactic acid and adenosine triphosphate. These metabolites are perceived by metaboreceptors which transmit the info to the brain through fatigue pathways. But in CFS patients, these pathways have become extremely sensitive to metabolites. So, these stimulate extreme feelings of exhaustion, say the researchers.

The researchers injected the 58 CFS patients who participated in this study with either a saline solution or a solution of the lidocaine painkiller in their buttock and back muscles. The researchers found that the patients who were injected with the lidocaine solution exhibited relief from symptoms of exhaustion. These patients said that they sensed a 38 percent drop in their fatigue levels.

According to the researchers, the findings indicate that the body parts which undergo chronic fatigue are muscles and other peripheral tissues. They inferred that lidocaine injections aided in blocking the abnormal signals sent by the muscle metabolites to the brain.

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