Is a breakthrough coming for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome treatment?

31 July 2012

Medical professionals have been told how they can provide more effective treatment to people suffering from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

The condition, which also goes by the name of ME (myalgic encephalomyelitis), is a very common disease in the UK, which currently affects 250,000 people across the country.

While there are many question marks that hang over ME, a recent study published in the journal PLoS ONE hopes to shed new light on how individuals can put up a successful fight against it.

By analysing 640 patients, the research outlined exercise and behavioural therapies to be the most successful methods for treating ME, as well as being the most cost-effective for people.

In order to reach such conclusions, the study group analysed improvements in the levels of fatigue and activity experienced in patients with the price tag lumbered on the NHS for providing the treatments.

Commenting on the findings, Professor Paul McCrone, a health economist from King's College London, stated that "there is now a strong case for the NHS to invest in providing these therapies".

This is because by adopting exercise and behavioural therapies to treat ME on a national scale, millions of pounds could potentially be saved by the economy. At the same time, those suffering from the disease could have a better method for battling through its effects.

Professor Michael Sharpe, from Oxford University, agrees with Professor McCrone, highlighting: "This new evidence should encourage health service commissioners to provide these treatments to all those patients who need them."

However, the report could be met with criticism if an earlier version of the study is anything to go on. This research, which was released in 2011, stated that cognitive behavioural therapy and graded exercise therapy are the most effective treatments to provide to those fighting ME.

Many patients' groups hit back at the study though, believing that patients would be better off, as well as safer, if they undertook pacing therapies. This is where people with ME learn to live within the limits caused by the condition.

Sir Peter Spencer, chief executive of charity Action for ME, still agrees with this mentality despite the release of the updated research.

"Patient choice should not be reduced as a result of this costing exercise," he stated.

"Action for ME will continue to recommend pacing as an effective treatment. We cannot ignore the number of patients who have been helped by it and the number of clinicians who find that it works for their patients."

There are many more questions still left to be answered regarding Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

One major cause of concern for the medical industry is that anybody can suffer from the condition. The only facts so far are that ME is more common in women than men, and is more likely to develop between the early-20s and mid-40s of a person's life.

However, children are not immune from the disease either, with youngsters between the ages of 13 and 15 most at risk.

Another point to note about ME is that the cause of the condition is not yet known. Many possible symptoms have been suggested to help medical professionals though.

Some factors which can lead to the development of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome include inherited genetic susceptibility, a traumatic experience in someone's life, exhaustion or mental stress. Viral infections and depression have been identified as common triggers as well.

While ME has been known to last for years in many cases, most people will see the symptoms of the condition improve over time. On top of this, the majority of people fighting the disease do make a full recovery and are able to go back to a normal way of life in time.

Posted by Edward Bartel

Health News is provided by Adfero in collaboration with Spire Healthcare. Please note that all copy above is ©Adfero Ltd. and does not reflect views or opinions of Spire Healthcare unless explicitly stated. Additional comments on the page from individual Spire consultants do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of other consultants or Spire Healthcare.

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