me myalic encephalomyelitis viral infection postviral syndrome postviral fatigue stress toxins fatigue memory impairment short term memory poor concentration sore throat swollen lymph nodes tender lymph nodes muscle pain joint pain multijoint pain headaches poor sleep postexertional malaise lethargy excess tiredness lacking energy lack of energy
ME has also been called post-viral fatigue syndrome, myalgic encephalomyelitis (myalgia means muscle pain and encephalomyelitis means inflammation of the brain and spinal cord) or chronic fatigue syndrome. Myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME) is characterised by prolonged fatigue associated with a wide range of accompanying symptoms. Viral infection, stress and toxins could all be possible triggers.
Around 250,000 people in the UK have chronic fatigue syndrome.
Anyone can get chronic fatigue syndrome, although it is more common in women than in men. It usually develops in the early 20s to mid-40s. Children can also be affected, usually between the ages of 13 and 15.
To be diagnosed with ME someone must have severe chronic fatigue for at least six months with no other medical condition identified as the cause. They must also have four or more of the following symptoms: Substantial impairment in short-term memory or concentration; sore throat; tender lymph nodes; muscle pain; multi-joint pain without swelling or redness; headaches of a new type, pattern or severity; unrefreshing sleep and post-exertional malaise lasting more than 24 hours.
Symptoms of ME are not improved by bed rest and can be made worse from physical and mental activity. Other symptoms could occur, including abdominal, chest or jaw pain, irregular heartbeat, night sweats, morning stiffness, bloating, diarrhoea, dizziness, nausea, tingling sensations and weight loss. Psychological problems, such as depression, irritability and panic attacks may also occur.
There is no particular treatment for myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome, as there is still not much known as to its cause. However, there are medicines that can be prescribed to relieve the symptoms: painkillers for muscle pains and headaches, for example, and antidepressants for depression. Behaviour therapy, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, counselling and graded exercise may help. Reducing stress, eating a healthy diet and support groups also help many people with myalic encephalomyelitis.
Acupuncture has been proved - through controlled trials - to be an effective treatment for such common symptoms of ME/CFS as headache, joint pain, neck pain and insomnia. Acupuncture has also been shown to have a therapeutic effect on sore throat. The World Health Organisation recommends acupuncture for treating many chronically painful conditions*.
It has been found that there is a difference between 'true' myalic encephalomyelitis - as characterized by a persistent viral infection, and post-viral syndrome - as characterized by a disharmony of the internal organs following a viral infection. The main way to distinguish these two conditions is in the symptoms of muscle ache and a general flu-like feeling: in 'true' myalic encephalomyelitis these are very predominant and persistent. Also, in 'true' myalic encephalomyelitis the pulse has a certain full quality, which may be slippery or wiry. The three main conditions with which ME can manifest are: Residual Pathogenic Factor, Latent Heat and Lesser Yang pattern.
According to Chinese Medicine theory acupuncture, Chinese herbs and Chinese massage can be prescribed to relieve the symptoms of myalic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome. ME can manifest itself with Excess conditions and Deficiency conditions - both of which are treated with acupuncture and Chinese herbs.
Excess Conditions: Damp-Heat in the muscles, Heat lurking in the Interior, Lesser Yang pattern. Deficiency conditions: Qi (the body's essential energy) Deficiency, Yin Deficiency and Yang Deficiency.
For personalised advice on diet and lifestyle, please ask the doctor during your consultation.
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"I have been receiving treatment for approximately two years for M.E. There was an immediate improvement (slight) in my condition and I found significant improvement after two years. Progress was slow after the initial improvement but alongside Chinese massage I did improve."