Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is sometimes referred to as myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME). It is a real, chronic condition that makes you feel so exhausted you are unable to perform your daily tasks. Extreme exhaustion is the main symptom of this condition, although it does have others. No amount of bed rest or sleep alleviates this tiredness. It can worsen following mental or physical exertion. If you have this condition, you are probably living a life with much less activity than you were able to do before you got sick.
Symptoms that accompany the tiredness may include:
- Muscle pain
- Impaired concentration
- Memory problems
- Post-exertion malaise
- Abnormal headaches
- Sore throat
- Low-grade fever
- Tender glands in the armpits or neck
- Heightened sensitivity to light, noise, food, odors, chemicals, or emotions
- Confusion or feeling disoriented
- Muscle coordination problems
- Low body temperature
- Cold hands and feet
- Worsening symptoms when under stress
- Lightheadedness and dizziness
- Rapid heart rate
- Shortness of breath
If you have four or more of the above symptoms along with extreme fatigue lasting for more than 6 months, you may be diagnosed with chronic fatigue after all other conditions with similar symptoms are excluded.
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Who Gets Chronic Fatigue?
According to the Institute of Medicine in a published article in 1995, as many as two and a half million of those living in the United States may have chronic fatigue. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates as many as four million may have chronic fatigue but only half of these have contacted their doctor for help. They also state that many who have CFS also have other medical or psychiatric conditions.
Those in the age range of 40 to 50 years are more at risk of developing this condition. Four out of five people with CFS are women. Children and adolescents can get CFS, as well, with girls being diagnosed more often than boys. Most children have an accompanying psychiatric disorder. Psychological factors when one is young may increase the chances for CFS later in life. Depression is another factor that can be linked to CFS, although it is not really understood why. However, depression does cause tiredness. Stress is another reason you may experience CFS.
What Causes Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?
People with CFS are hypersensitive to even normal amounts of exercise and activity. It is not really known why this occurs. It is possible that some are born with a predisposition for CFS, which is triggered by a combination of different factors. Some potential triggers are:
- Immune system problems: CFS patients appear to have slightly impaired immune system function.
- Hormonal imbalances: It has been noted that people with CFS have abnormal blood levels of certain hormones which are made in the hypothalamus, adrenal glands, or pituitary glands.
- Viral infections: People often develop CFS after having a viral infection. This raises suspicions that viruses may trigger the disorder. Some specific illnesses linked to this condition are the Epstein-Barr virus, HHV-6, and leukemia. There is no definitive answer, however.
Before a diagnosis of CFS can be given, however, there are other illnesses with similar symptoms that must be ruled out. These include:
- Liver disease
- Kidney disease
- Adrenal insufficiency
- Psychosomatic illness
- Lyme disease
- Hepatitis C
- Thyroid disease
There are also a number of illnesses that often co-exist with chronic fatigue syndrome:
- Chronic headache
- IBS — irritable bowel syndrome
- Sleep issues
- TMD — temporomandibular disorder
- Interstitial cystitis
How the Central Nervous System Plays a Role
The central nervous system is made up of the brain, the brainstem, and the spinal cord. It controls most functions of the body and mind. It is the communication highway of the entire body, sending and receiving signals from the brain and the body. If something happens to disrupt these signals or cause them not to be correct, problems such as chronic fatigue syndrome and other serious health problems can occur.
What can hinder the central nervous system from working properly? Often it can be linked to a misalignment in one of the bones of the upper cervical spine, in particular, the C1 and C2 vertebrae — the top bones of the neck. These bones are susceptible to misaligning due to their mobility and location. A minor blow to the head or neck, a car accident, a trip and fall, a sporting accident, or whiplash can all be to blame for misalignments. Upper cervical chiropractors have been specially trained to correct this type of misalignment.
Dr. M. Dickholtz, Sr., a prominent upper cervical chiropractor, was one of the first to recognize that chronic fatigue becomes less intense after receiving an adjustment from an upper cervical chiropractor. He observed 19 patients with CFS over a six-month period of having their C1 (atlas) position corrected. At the end of the study, the results were astonishing!
- General health rating improved from a 30.3 to 60.9
- Mental health rating improved from 68.6 to 74.7
- Overall sleep quality rating went from 6.1 to 12.1
This proves that upper cervical chiropractic has a place in the lives of those suffering from chronic fatigue.
Here at Balanced Living Chiropractic, we use a method similar to that used by Dr. Dickholtz. It is a gentle method which does not require us to pop or crack the spine or neck in any way. Rather, we encourage the bones to move back into place more naturally, leading to a longer-lasting adjustment and, eventually, fewer office visits to stay in alignment. The body begins to heal itself naturally, and patients see similar results to those mentioned in the above study.
To schedule a complimentary NUCCA consultation, call 248-652-7225 or just click the button below.
If you are outside of the local area, you can find an Upper Cervical Doctor near you at www.uppercervicalawareness.com