Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Day is observed on May 12th every year to raise awareness about this debilitating condition. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a complex disorder characterized by overwhelming fatigue that is not relieved by rest and is worsened by physical or mental activity. CFS can be challenging to diagnose and treat, as its underlying causes are not yet fully understood. However, physiotherapy has emerged as an effective treatment option for managing CFS symptoms. In this blog, we will discuss chronic fatigue syndrome and how physiotherapy can help treat it.
Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), also known as myalgia encephalomyelitis (ME), is a complex condition characterized by severe and persistent fatigue that is not relieved by rest or sleep. Other symptoms may include muscle pain, headaches, joint pain, difficulty concentrating, and sleep disturbances.

What to Expect during Physiotherapy for CFS?
One of the most effective treatments for CFS is physiotherapy. Physiotherapy can help to improve physical function, reduce pain, and improve sleep quality. It can also help to teach people with CFS how to manage their symptoms and cope with the challenges of the condition, your first physiotherapy appointment will typically involve a comprehensive assessment of your symptoms and function. Your physiotherapist will ask you about your medical history, your symptoms, and your functional limitations. They will also perform a physical examination to assess your strength, endurance, and flexibility.

Once your physiotherapist has a good understanding of your condition, they will develop a personalized treatment plan for you. Physiotherapists use a variety of techniques and interventions to help patients improve their mobility, strength, and function. In the case of CFS, physiotherapy can play a crucial role in helping patients manage their symptoms and improve their overall health and well-being.
Relaxation Techniques: Relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing, meditation, or yoga, can help patients manage their stress levels and improve their sleep quality. These techniques can be beneficial for patients with CFS, as stress and sleep disturbances are common symptoms.

1: Breathing techniques: Another intervention that may be used in physiotherapy for CFS is breathing techniques. Patients with CFS may experience difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, which can be exacerbated by anxiety or stress. Physiotherapists can teach patients breathing techniques that can help them relax and improve their breathing patterns. This can be particularly helpful for patients who experience anxiety or panic attacks as a result of their condition
2: Graded Exercise Therapy (GET): GET is a structured program that involves gradually increasing physical activity levels over time. The goal is to improve physical function without causing excessive fatigue or worsening symptoms. GET may include exercises such as walking, cycling, or swimming. It can help to improve physical function, reduce pain, and improve sleep quality. It is important to listen to your body and rest when you need to.
3: Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT): CBT is a form of talk therapy that can help patients change their negative thought patterns and behaviors related to CFS. CBT can be helpful in reducing stress, improving mood, and increasing physical activity levels.
4: Electrical modalities: One type of treatment that can be helpful for CFS is electrical physiotherapy modalities. These modalities use electrical currents to stimulate muscles and nerves. They can be used to reduce pain, improve muscle function, and improve blood flow e.g., TENS, IFT, laser therapy, shockwave therapy, etc.
5: Manual therapy: It is a type of physiotherapy that uses hands-on techniques to improve movement and reduce pain. Manual therapy can be used to treat muscle pain, joint pain, and headaches.

Finally, physiotherapy can also include education and counseling for patients with CFS. Many patients with CFS experience psychological symptoms such as anxiety, depression, and social isolation. Physiotherapists can provide education and counseling on strategies to manage these symptoms, including relaxation techniques, stress management, and social support.

How Physiotherapy can help with CFS?
Physiotherapy can help people with CFS in a number of ways. It can:
1: Improve physical function: Physiotherapy can help people with CFS improve their strength, endurance, and flexibility. This can make it easier to perform everyday activities, such as walking, bathing, and dressing.
2: Reduce pain: Physiotherapy can help to reduce pain caused by muscle tension, joint pain, and headaches.
3: Improve sleep quality: Physiotherapy can help to improve sleep quality by reducing pain, improving muscle relaxation, and teaching people how to manage their sleep hygiene.
4: Improve the quality of life: Physiotherapy can help to improve the quality of life by reducing pain, improving physical function, and helping people to cope with the challenges of CFS.

It is important to note that exercises should be done under the guidance of a qualified physiotherapist who has experience working with patients with CFS. The program should be tailored to the individual patient's needs and capabilities, and it should be monitored closely to ensure that the patient is not overexerting themselves.