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Acupuncture for CFS and ME

Acupuncture for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and ME

Issues about tiredness are far ranging, from plain fatigue to the very much more complex syndromes of ME and CFS (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome), overlapping with Fibromyalgia.

While acupuncture can deal quite effectively with fatigue, I usually recommend a combined or herbal only approach for these complex tiredness syndromes, and advise that treatment will be relatively long term, i.e. a few months long.

ME is one of the many terms used for an increasingly described syndrome of chronictiredness and aching muscles. The currently medically preferred term for this syndrome is chronic fatigue syndrome. The name ME literally means "inflammation of the brain andspinal cord (encephalomyelitis) with aching muscles (myalgia)". Although it can affect allgroups of people, it has been reported to be common in young people, especially women,from high achieving backgrounds, and students who have a tendency to overwork. A historyof trauma such as whiplash may also be present.

The symptoms which can be experienced in ME include fatigue (by definition lasting over sixmonths) poor concentration and memory, swollen and tender lymph nodes, mood and sleepchanges and muscle aches. The nature of the fatigue is characteristic in that musclesbecome progressively more fatigued with recurrent use. The condition can be extremelydebilitating, but is not life-threatening.

Despite its medical name, ME is considered by the medical profession to be a functional syndrome. This means that there are no easily measurable physical changesconsistently found in patients who complain of the symptoms characteristic of the syndrome.This is why many doctors believe that chronic fatigue syndrome is a better term to use todescribe the condition.

Scientific studies have shown that the blood supply to parts of the brain appears to bereduced in patients who have the symptoms of ME, which does indicate that there is somephysical basis to the condition. However, because of the lack of simple tests to diagnose thecondition, ME is often diagnosed after a long period of excluding other conditions. Althoughsome cases follow a viral infection such as influenza or glandular fever, this is not aconsistent finding, which means that an infective cause is generally not medicallyrecognised. In some cases the symptoms develop slowly over the course of a few months. Inthese cases it is often impossible to pinpoint a particular infection which might have been thetrigger for the symptoms.

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