Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is a debilitating condition for patients as they constantly live with low energy. It can make daily life a struggle and the worst part is that there aren’t FDA-approved treatments for it, so patients are often left in the dark about what to do to improve their symptoms. Symptoms of CFS include extreme fatigue, muscle and joint pain, sore throat and tender lymph nodes, headaches, and difficulties with memory and sleep.
A new report suggests that patients may obtain some relief through expert-guided, self-help exercise programs.
For the study, 200 CFS patients performed workouts over the course of 12 weeks with either phone or online support from a physiotherapist. The patients’ physical activity slowly progressed over the 12 weeks as they established daily routines.
The researchers suggest that this form of guided exercise is useful for patients because it does not require them to leave their homes to visit a clinic.
The lead author of the study, Lucy Clark, explained, “We found that a self-help approach to a graded exercise program (GES), guided by a therapist, was safe and also helped to reduce fatigue for some people with chronic fatigue syndrome.”
Researchers are now trying to determine whether the benefits of the exercise lasted beyond the 12-week study period.
In an accompanying journal editorial, Dr. Daniel Clauw, director of the Chronic Pain and Fatigue Research Center at the University of Michigan, praised the study by saying, “The finding that graded exercise therapy is effective even when exercise is not being witnessed and directly guided by a physiotherapist is a substantial advance, since many patients with chronic fatigue syndrome and other functional impairment have difficulty getting to physiotherapy or do not have access to appropriately trained physiotherapists.”
As mentioned, there aren’t any FDA-approved drug therapies currently available for treating chronic fatigue syndrome, but using natural remedies that can offer patients some relief is still a viable way to improve quality of life.