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Exercise Could Aggravate Chronic Fatigue

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According to a study by the University of Alabama at Birmingham and John Hopkins University School of Medicine, symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome may be caused by mild to moderate strain to muscles and nerves. Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), which affects at least 1 million people in the United States, is a disabling multi system disorder. It consists of prolonged and sever tiredness that cannot be relieved by rest and a decreased ability to participate in ordinary activities by at least 50 percent. Symptoms of CFS include:
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • Muscle pain
  • Joint pain
  • Feeling tired
  • Feeling discomfort after physical exertion
  • Tender lymph nodes
The study involved 80 people; 60 who suffer from CFS and 20 who do not. Participants reported levels of certain CFS symptoms -- body pain, lightheadedness, concentration difficulties -- while doing 15 minutes of either a passive supine straight leg raise or a sham leg raise that caused no strain. 24 hours later, participants reported their symptoms again. As it turns out, those with CFS who strained more nerves and muscles during the leg raises reported more symptoms than those with little strain and those without CFS. This shows that additional strain can lead to a flare-up of CFS symptoms. Leaders of the study and co-authors of the paper Kevin Fontaine, Ph.D and Peter Rowe, M.D. want to use the results of the study to understand why exercise and activities of daily living might provoke CFS symptoms. They plan to continue research to further understand the effects muscle and nerve strains have on CFS.
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