If you suffer from chronic fatigue syndrome, you know how frustrating it can be to deal with the fatigue, muscle pain, sore throat, headaches, and the other symptoms that come with it. Even worse, very little is known about the disease, including what causes it. Fortunately, a recent study may provide some insight into this troubling disease.
Chronic fatigue syndrome, or CFS, is a complex disease that is still poorly understood. Factors that have been suggested as possible causes include viral infections, immune issues, and hormones. Stress may contribute to symptom severity. This condition most commonly affects people in their 40-50’s, and women are more commonly diagnosed than men.
Researchers from the University of Alabama at Birmingham and Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine were interested in studying the effect of muscle strain on the disease. To do so, they compared the effect of straining the leg muscles to those who did not have muscle strain in both healthy controls and participants with CFS.
In their study, they directed all participants to lay flat on their backs. Some participants were then told to raise their legs straight up while keeping their backs flat on the ground, in order to cause muscle strain. The other participants performed a sham leg raise, or one that did not cause muscle strain. The researchers asked all participants to describe their symptoms during the leg activity and 24 hours later.
During the activity, they found that CFS participants who were straining their muscles had significantly more body pain and difficulties concentrating. When asked about symptoms 24 hours later, this same group experienced a greater sense of lightheadedness, and their symptoms overall were much worse than those CFS participants that just performed the sham leg raise. The healthy controls experienced significantly less symptoms overall.
While the cause of CFS remains unknown, this study demonstrated that simple maneuvers that cause muscle strain can greatly affect symptoms in people with CFS. This may help researchers better understand this complex disease and underlying problems that lead to its symptoms. Hopefully, there will be more answers in the years to come.