Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Question: I realize the above is not really an RSI problem (or is it?), but I have just received an E-mail from my son in Canada – he is a part time student (Computer Technology) who also works for his living. Around 5 years ago at the age of 22 he was found to have an underactive Thyroid Gland, since then he has monitored his condition closely with his Doctor, but he is still so very exhausted all the time.

He believes he has CTS – anyone knows about this, causes etc? Although he has only self diagnosed at the moment, he is visiting his Doctor, I am naturally quite worried.

Answer 1: There are some really good sites and books on Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, which is also called ME in Britain. I don’t have site addresses but if you do a search under the names you will find ‘loads’ of information on it. Please don’t worry. There is a lot of help for it out there.

Answer 2: It’s a real syndrome, though nobody seems to know where it comes from though there are plenty of theories. A very good website is http://www.cfids.org/ (CFS is also known as CFIDS in the states.)

Answer 3: CFS has been mentioned several times recently on the list.  I have suffered from CFS/ME for several years now – and have been through various treatment processes including anti-depressants and cognitive behaviour therapy.  I don’t want to talk much about CFS itself, but more about my experience with alongside RSI.  My GP referred me to an excellent physio at York Hospital who had experience with patients suffering with CFS.

Through this I learnt total relaxation, the ability to come to terms with a disabling condition and how to pace myself. All great techniques for dealing with RSI as well.  It involved fundamental life style changes so that energy was not wasted on unnecessary tasks.  But best of all was the building of a relationship with a health care professional that was concerned about me holistically rather than body part specific. As an observation, my physio said that many patients she has seen have wrist problems.

This is due to a variety of things. Muscles become tired (from non use) and also begin to tighten. Consequently the wrist and hand becomes clenched (this is not just connected to the wrist muscles but they are an obvious example). Constant tightening of muscles is tiring which leads to more fatigue!  A lot of effort was put into reversing this clenching motion, including nerve stretching exercises and learning how to relax the muscles when not in use.

Thankfully, the whole treatment package has benefited me hugely and I can continue to do normal activities successfully.The ME Action group in the UK is very supportive. Their web site is  http://www.actionforme.org.uk/  The main message for those experiencing CFS or ME is that it is not the end of the world – it is possible to bounce back (in a controlled way) but it does take time. I’ve had it for 4 years and RSI for 2.5. It is likely to be a further 4 to 5 years before I can return to my sporting activities. An understanding doctor is essential.

There is more evidence becoming available for it and how it should be treated.It is very distressing for the individual, especially if they were used to a very active lifestyle. However it is equally worrying for family and friends. Groups such as Action for ME play an excellent role.


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