Consensus overview on ME/CFS


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Consensus overview on ME/CFS

  1. 1. Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/ Chronic Fatigue Syndrome:  A Clinical Case Definition  and Guidelines for  Medical Practitioners  An Overview of the Canadian  Consensus Document Bruce M. Carruthers Marjorie I. van de Sande
  2. 2. The Canadian Consensus Document on ME/CFSOur comparison study examined differences between patients meeting the Canadianclinical and the Fukuda et al. criteria for ME/CFS, with people who had chronically fatiguingillness explained by a psychiatric condition. The Canadian Clinical Criteria selected patientswith more physical functional impairment, more fatigue/weakness, neurocognitive andneurological symptoms and had more variables that significantly differentiated themfrom the psychiatric comparison group than did the Fukuda et al. criteria. The findingsdo suggest that the Canadian criteria point to the potential utility in designating post-exertional malaise and fatigue, sleep dysfunction, pain, clinical neurocognitive, andclinical autonomic/neuroimmunoendocrine symptoms as major criteria.The selection of diagnostic signs and symptoms has major implications for whichindividuals are diagnosed with ME/CFS and how seriously the illness is viewed by healthcare providers, disability insurers, rehabilitation planners, and patients and their familiesand friends. I hope the results of this comparison study will encourage more physiciansto USE THE CANADIAN CLINICAL CRITERIA. Leonard A. Jason, Ph D Director: Center for Community Research, DePaul University, Chicago IL Board of Directors: American Association for Chronic Fatigue SyndromeThe Canadian Clinical Case Definition has brilliantly rewritten the guidelines to capture,at last, what ME/CFS is really all about. It is not that patients are fatigued. Healthy peopleget fatigued. Rather the definition specifically selects patients who worsen with exercise.This takes the emphasis away from the subjective sensation of “fatigue” and forces oneto clearly describe the connection between fatigue and activity. This also embracesmental fatigue (loss of cognitive function and alertness) as well as physical fatigue (lackof energy and strength, often felt in the muscles). The patient must become symptomaticallyill after exercise and must also have evidence of neurocognitive, neuroendocrine,dysautonomic (e.g. orthostatic intolerance), and immune malfunction.The Adelaide Forum agreed to UNANIMOUSLY EMBRACE THE CANADIAN CASE DEFINITIONwith a strong recommendation that it also be taken up by ME/CFS societies. (Excerpt from the review of the Adelaide Forum, Australia, 2005) Michael Barratt, MBBS, FRCPA Adelaide, AustraliaIn my opinion, and in the opinions of the other doctors at the Environmental Health Clinic,the ME/CFS Consensus Document is EXTREMELY PRACTICAL AND USEFUL. We haveused it repeatedly in helping to develop comprehensive individual treatment plans incollaboration with patients. At the behest of the Ontario College of Family Physicians(OCFP) Environmental Health Committee, and with approval of the publisher, the consensusdiagnostic checklists were posted on the OCFP website. We also use the diagnosticcriteria, checklists, and treatment suggestions as teaching tools in the OCFPs EnvironmentalHealth Day at their Annual Scientific Assembly. Lynn Marshall, MD, FAAEM, FRSM Medical Director: Environmental Health Clinic, Sunnybrook & Womens College Health Sciences Centre Member: Environmental Health Committee, Ontario College of Family Physicians Lecturer: University of Toronto Department of Family and Community Medicine Assistant Professor of Family Medicine: Northern Ontario School of Medicine
  3. 3. Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: A Clinical Case Definition and Guidelines for Medical Practitioners An Overview of the Canadian Consensus Document Bruce M. Carruthers, M.D., C.M., FRCP(C) Marjorie I. van de Sande, B. Ed., Grad. Dip. Ed.© Copyright 2005 by Carruthers B.M. and van de Sande M.I.All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced, utilized, or transmitted in any form, electronic or mechanical,including photocopying, microfilming, and recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, or by any meanswhatsoever without prior written permission from the authors. In our efforts to make physicians aware of the ConsensusDocument and ensure that patients receive an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment in a timely fashion, the authorsmay consider requests to reproduce this booklet providing ALL of the following conditions are met. This booklet mustbe reproduced in its entirety, with no additions, deletions, or changes to this booklet and its contents in anymanner whatsoever; no profit is made by any individual, organization, company, university, or otherwise; andthe authors are credited as the source. In your written request to reprint this booklet please state that you agree to allof the above conditions and indicate how you intend to use the booklet.The preparation of this work has been undertaken with great care to publish reliable data and information. However, theauthors are not responsible for any errors contained herein or for consequences that may ensue from use of materials orinformation contained in this work. This work does not endorse any commercial product.The National Library of Canada Cataloguing-in-Publication Data:Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: A Clinical Case Definition and Guidelines for MedicalPractitioners. An Overview of the Canadian Consensus Document. Carruthers, Bruce M., van de Sande, Marjorie I.ISBN: 0-9739335-0-XSoft cover, alkaline paper. Includes authors’ affiliations, table of contents, 1. Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/ChronicFatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS) – Clinical Definition/Diagnostic Criteria, 2. Diagnosis, Differential, 3. ClinicalDiagnostic Guidelines, 4. Treatment Guidelines. Copyright 2005 by B. M. Carruthers and M. I. van de Sande.Published by: Carruthers & van de SandeCorrespondence to: Dr. Bruce M. Carruthers, email: #2, 3657 West 16 Ave, Vancouver, B.C. V6R 3C3, CanadaReprint permission requests to: Marjorie van de Sande, email: 151 Arbour Ridge Circle N.W., Calgary, Alberta T3G 3V9, CanadaCover Design by Robert J. van de Sande, B. Sc, E.E.Cover Pictures (top to bottom): Xenon SPECT scan reveals pronounced worsening of hypoperfusionfollowing exercise; PET scan reveals decreased glucose utilization; sMRI voxel-based morphometry techniqueindicates the volume of gray matter of the brain is significantly reduced and there is an average of 8% reductionof brain tissue, although not discernable by the naked eye; and the bottom two pictures using qEEG topographyindicate the electrical sources in the gray matter (cortex). ME/CFS patients have increased sources (indicated inred) in the left hemisphere whereas the controls have increased sources (indicated in green) in the righthemisphere in the frontal and superior temporal cerebral regions in beta frequencies. Patients’ reduced sourcesin the right hemisphere may be due to interference with the left brain inhibitory regulation of the righthemisphere during cognitive processing. This booklet is an Overview of Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: Clinical Working Case Definition, Diagnostic and Treatment Guidelines A Consensus Document Bruce M Carruthers, Anil Kumar Jain, Kenny L De Meirleir, Daniel L Peterson, Nancy G Klimas, A Martin Lerner, Alison C Bested, Pierre Flor-Henry, Pradip Joshi, AC Peter Powles, Jeffrey A Sherkey, Marjorie I van de Sande. Journal of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome 11(1):7-115, 2003. ISBN: 0-7890-227-9 © Haworth Medical Press Inc. This journal is available from The Haworth Document Delivery Service: Phone (Canada & USA) 800-722-5857. E-mail address:
  4. 4. Authors and Affiliations: ME/CFS Consensus DocumentBruce M. Carruthers, MD, CM, FRCP(C): Specialist in Internal Medicine, Vancouver, B.C., CanadaAnil Kumar Jain, B Sc, MD: Ottawa Hospital, Ottawa, ON, CanadaKenny L. De Meirleir, MD, Ph D: Professor of Physiology and Medicine (KDM, IC, PDB); Director of the Human Performance Laboratory and member of the Vakgroep Internal Medicine; Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Brussels, BelgiumDaniel L. Peterson, MD: Specialist in Internal Medicine, Affiliate of the Sierra Internal Medicine Associates, Incline Village, NV, USA; ME/CFS researcher and clinician; a board member of the American Association of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome; and member of the International Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Study GroupNancy G. Klimas, MD: Clinical Professor of Medicine in Microbiology/Immunology/Allergy and Psychology, University of Miami School of Medicine; Co-Director, E.M. Papper Laboratory of Clinical Immunology, University Miami School of Medicine; Director of AIDS Research and Co-Director of AIDS Clinical Research Unit, Miami VA Medical Center, Miami, FL, USAA. Martin Lerner, MD, PC, MACP: Clinical Professor of Internal Medicine, Wayne State University School of Medicine; William Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oak, MI, USAAlison C. Bested, MD, FRCP(C): Haematological Pathologist; Environmental Health Clinic; Sunnybrook & Women’s College Health Sciences Centre, Toronto, ON, Canada.Pierre Flor-Henry, MB, Ch B, MD, Acad DPM, FRC, CSPQ: Clinical Director, General Psychiatry; Director, Clinical Diagnostics and Research Centre; Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, CanadaPradip Joshi, BM, MD, FRCP(C): Clinical Associate Professor, Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. John’s, NF, CanadaA. C. Peter Powles, MRACP, FRACP, FRCP(C), ABSM: Professor Emeritus, Faculty of Health Sciences, McMasters University, Hamilton, ON; Professor, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto; Chief of Medicine and Sleep Disorder Consultant, St Joseph’s Health Centre, Toronto; Sleep Disorder Consultant at the Sleep Disorder Clinic at St. Joseph’s Healthcare, Hamilton, and Central West Sleep Affiliation, Paris, ON, CanadaJeffrey A. Sherkey, MD, CCFP(C): Formerly in Family Medicine, University Health Network, Toronto, ON, Canada. We sincerely regret that Dr. Sherkey has since passed away.Marjorie I. van de Sande, B Ed, Grad Dip Ed: Consensus Coordinator; Advisor to the National ME/FM Action Network, CanadaAcknowledgements for the Canadian Consensus DocumentLydia Neilson, MSM, President, and the National ME/FM Action Network for spearheading the drive for the development of a clinical case definition, and diagnostic and treatment protocols for ME/CFS. National ME/FM Action Network, Canada. www.mefmaction.netHealth Canada for establishing the “Terms of Reference” and selecting the Expert Consensus PanelCrystaal, for sponsoring the Expert Consensus Panel Workshop without any direct involvementJames McSherry, MB, ChB, CCFP, FCFP, FABMP, FAAFP, who was a member of the Expert Consensus Panel and contributed in the review process but was unable to attend the consensus meeting. We sincerely regret that Dr. Mc Sherry has since passed away.Kim D. Jones, RNC, Ph D, FNP, exercise physiologist, for her contribution to the exercise section.Kerry Ellison, OT (non-practicing), for her contribution to the patient management/treatment, and assessing disability sectionsHugh Scher, LLP, for his contribution to the assessing disability sectionAdditional Acknowledgements for this OverviewExpert Consensus Panel for ME/CFS, for reviewing the overviewRobert J. van de Sande, B. Sc. E.E., for the cover design and formatting of the bookletPictures on Cover (Reprinted with permission): Dr. Floris de Lange - sMRI voxel-based morphometry scan; Dr. Pierre Flor-Henry – qEEG topography; PET & Xenon SPECT scans: Goldstein JA. “Chronic Fatigue Syndromes: The Limbic Hypothesis”. pp. vi, ix © 1993 Haworth Medical Press. Available from document delivery service: 1-800-HAWORTH http://www.HaworthPress.comJudith A. Brock, MA, for proof-reading
  5. 5. A Clinical Case Definition and Guidelines for Medical Practitioners CONTENTS DEVELOPMENT OF THE CANADIAN CONSENSUS DOCUMENT iv INTRODUCTION 1 Classification 1 Etiology 1 EPIDEMIOLOGY Prevalence 1 Natural Course 1 DIAGNOSTIC GUIDELINES 1 CLINICAL WORKING CASE DEFINITION OF ME/CFS 2 Exclusions 2 Co-morbid Entities 3 Application Notes 3 SYMPTOMS AND SIGNS 3 1. Fatigue 3 2. Post-Exertional Malaise and/or Fatigue 4 3. Sleep Dysfunction 4 4. Pain 4 5. Neurological/Cognitive Manifestations 5 6. Autonomic Manifestations 6 7. Neuroendocrine Manifestations 6 8. Immune Manifestations 7 Features of ME/CFS in Young People 7 CLINICAL EVALUATION OF ME/CFS 7 Differences Between ME/CFS and FMS 9 Differences Among ME/CFS and Psychiatric Disorders 9 TREATMENT GUIDELINES 10 Goals 10 Guidelines 10 SELF-HELP STRATEGIES 10 SELF-POWERED EXERCISE 12 SYMPTOM MANAGEMENT & TREATMENT 12 1. Sleep Disturbance 12 2. Pain 13 3. Fatigue 13 4. Cognitive Manifestations 13 5. Autonomic Manifestations 13 6. Neuroendocrine Manifestations 14 7. Immune Manifestations 14 Blood Donations 14 Immunization 14 APPENDICES 15 Symptom Severity and Severity Hierarch Profile 15 Sleep and Pain Profile 16 Assessing Occupational Disability 17 REFERENCES 19An Overview of the Canadian Consensus Document iii
  6. 6. Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome DEVELOPMENT OF THE CANADIAN CONSENSUS DOCUMENTThe National ME/FM Action Network of Canada mandate was to develop a clinical definition thatspearheaded the drive for the development of an addressed a broader spectrum of the pathogenesisexpert consensus document for Myalgic of the illness, as well as to provide diagnostic andEncephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome treatment protocols for medical practitioners. The(ME/CFS). In response to increasing numbers of members of the panel would have autonomy overpatients inquiring about doctors knowledgeable their consensus document.about ME/CFS, the Network sent a questionnaire todoctors across Canada asking what items would be Health Canada selected an Expert Consensus Panelmost helpful in assisting them with their ME/CFS for ME/CFS. The eleven-member Expert Consensuspatients. The physicians concurred that a clinical Panel received more than forty nominationsdefinition, as well as diagnostic and treatment including numerous nominations from eachprotocols were of prime importance. stakeholder group. The members of the Consensus Panel represented clinicians, university medicalThe National ME/FM Action Network then faculty, and researchers in the area of ME/CFS.approached two clinicians knowledgeable about Collectively, the members of the panel hadME/CFS and experienced in its diagnosis and diagnosed and/or treated more than twentytreatment. Dr. Bruce Carruthers of British Columbia thousand ME/CFS patients.and Dr. Anil Jain of Ontario kindly agreed to co-author a draft document. Lydia Neilson, President Health Canada planned for a Consensus Workshopof the National ME/FM Action Network, met with the to be held on March 30 to April 1, 2001. CrystaalHonourable Alan Rock, then Minister of Health, to (Biovail Pharmaceuticals) funded the workshopdiscuss the results of the doctors’ survey and the without having any involvement with or influencedraft document. The Honourable Alan Rock over the Consensus Document. They hired Scienceresponded by stating the draft clinical definition was and Medicine Canada to organize and facilitate the“a milestone in the fight against this complex and workshop.tragic condition”. The draft document went through three rounds ofHealth Canada established the “Terms of revisions prior to the Consensus Workshop whereReference”. One stipulation was that at least one the document received consensus, in principle,member of the panel must be nominated by each of with directives for various members to revise somethe five stakeholder groups of government, sections. The document was compiled by Marjorieuniversities, clinicians, industry, and advocacy. van de Sande and the revised document was sentThere had to be at least ten members on the panel, to the panel. There was 100% consensus by thefour of whom could come from outside of Canada. panel members on the final Consensus Document1.Panel members had to be practicing MDs actively The Consensus Document has become known astreating and/or diagnosing ME/CFS, or MDs or Ph the “Canadian Consensus Document for ME/CFS”.Ds involved in clinical research of the illness. Their Importance of a Clinical DefinitionThe Greek origin of syndrome is syn– together, and -drome - a track for running. One must determine thetracks of travel and observe the travel of a patient’s syndrome components. Because research definitionsdefine a static collection of symptom entities, they have ignored or downplayed the critical dynamic featuresof this syndrome, as lived by patients. The normal fatigue/pain pattern directly related to felt causal actionand adjusted by activity/rest rhythms is broken in ME/CFS. As a result there are cumulative physical andcognitive fatigue/pain and “crashing” patterns, which are criterial in this Clinical Definition. The objectivepostural cardiac output abnormalities correlate with the degree of reactive fatigue and overall severity ofME/CFS. These findings could supply an objective marker for fatigue severity and duration, and help explainwhy ME/CFS can be so disabling. It is important for the clinician to observe the dynamics of the wholecluster of symptoms in their interaction, additive effects, and the disruption to patients’ lives over longerperiods of time. iv Carruthers, van de Sande
  7. 7. A Clinical Case Definition and Guidelines for Medical Practitioners INTRODUCTION “Myalgic Encephalomyelitis” and “Chronic Fatigue Etiology Syndrome” are used interchangeably and this illness Most patients enjoyed a healthy, active lifestyle is referred to as “ME/CFS”. The Expert Consensus prior to the onset of ME/CFS. The importance of Panel, selected by Health Canada, established viral involvement is supported by frequent infective clinical criteria, and developed an integrative triggers. Elevated levels of a wide variety of diagnostic and treatment approach to ME/CFS. intracellular pathogens suggest that a dysfunction in the body’s response to infection plays a Classification significant role. The presence of activated immune ME/CFS is an acquired organic, pathophysiological, complexes is supported by activation of elevated multi-systemic illness that occurs in both sporadic levels of T lymphocytes; poor cellular function is and epidemic forms. Myalgic Encephalomyelitis suggested by low natural killer cell cytotoxicity2. (ICD 10 G93.3), which includes CFS, is classified as There are confirmed findings of biochemical a neurological disease in the World Health dysregulation of the 2-5A synthetase/ribonuclease Organization’s International Classification of L (RNase L) antiviral defense pathway in Diseases (ICD). Chronic fatigue must not be monocytes3,4 in many cases. Other prodomal confused with ME/CFS because the “fatigue” of events include immunization, anesthetics, physical ME/CFS represents pathophysiological exhaustion trauma, exposure to environmental pollutants, and is only one of many symptoms. Compelling chemicals and heavy metals, and rarely blood research evidence of physiological and biochemical transfusions. A rapid and dramatic deterioration of abnormalities identifies ME/CFS as a distinct, health in acute onset cases often occurs while biological, clinical disorder. others have a gradual onset with no obvious cause. In addition to infectious causes, a genetic predisposition5 may be considered when more than one separated family member is afflicted. EPIDEMIOLOGY Prevalence Natural Course Epidemiological studies indicate a wide range of ME/CFS can be debilitating. In a review study of prevalence. However, in a large American sample prognosis7, 5 of 6 studies indicated that 0% to 6% of more than 28,000 adults6, 422 per 100,000 had (the sixth study indicated 12%) of adults return to ME/CFS, suggesting that between 125,000 and their pre-illness level of functioning. Relapses can 150,000 adult Canadians suffer from ME/CFS. It is occur several years after remission. Progressive more prevalent than lung cancer and AIDS6. This degeneration of end organs, particularly cardiac or illness affects all age groups, including children, all pancreatic failure, may result in death, and suicide racial/ethnic groups, and all socioeconomic strata. is a risk. The prognosis for children and youth is There is a higher prevalence in females. Lower much better. Symptom severity is the best indicator blood volume and lower blood cell mass may be of outcome, but accurate prognosis for an contributing factors in their difficulty in coping with individual cannot be predicted with certainty. the genesis of ME/CFS. Objective postural cardiac output abnormalities correlate with symptom severity and reactive exhaustion. DIAGNOSTIC GUIDELINESThe Clinical Definition encompasses the broad cluster characteristic symptom patterns, which reflectof symptoms and signs that give ME/CFS its specific areas of pathogenesis.distinctive character. Diagnosis is based on these An Overview of the Canadian Consensus Document 1
  8. 8. Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome CLINICAL WORKING CASE DEFINITION OF ME/CFS A patient with ME/CFS will meet the criteria for fatigue, post-exertional malaise and/or fatigue, sleep dysfunction, and pain; have two or more neurological/cognitive manifestations and one or more symptoms from two of the categories of autonomic, neuroendocrine, and immune manifestations; and adhere to item 7. __ 1. Fatigue: The patient must have a significant degree of new onset, unexplained, persistent, or recurrent physical and mental fatigue that substantially reduces activity level. __ 2. Post-Exertional Malaise and/or Fatigue: There is an inappropriate loss of physical and mental stamina, rapid muscular and cognitive fatigability, post exertional malaise and/or fatigue and/or pain and a tendency for other associated symptoms within the patient’s cluster of symptoms to worsen. There is a pathologically slow recovery period - usually 24 hours or longer. __ 3. Sleep Dysfunction:* There is unrefreshed sleep or sleep quantity or rhythm disturbances such as reversed or chaotic diurnal sleep rhythms. __ 4. Pain:* There is a significant degree of myalgia. Pain can be experienced in the muscles, and/or joints, and is often widespread and migratory in nature. Often there are significant headaches of new type, pattern or severity. __ 5. Neurological/Cognitive Manifestations: Two or more of the following difficulties should be present: confusion, impairment of concentration and short-term memory consolidation, disorientation, difficulty with information processing, categorizing and word retrieval, and perceptual and sensory disturbances – e.g. spatial instability and disorientation and inability to focus vision. Ataxia, muscle weakness and fasciculations are common. There may be overload1 phenomena: cognitive, sensory – e.g. photophobia and hypersensitivity to noise - and/or emotional overload, which may lead to “crash”2 periods and/or anxiety. __ 6. At Least One Symptom from Two of the Following Categories: __ a. Autonomic Manifestations: orthostatic intolerance - neurally mediated hypotension (NMH), postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS), delayed postural hypotension; light-headedness; extreme pallor; nausea and irritable bowel syndrome; urinary frequency and bladder dysfunction; palpitations with or without cardiac arrhythmias; exertional dyspnea. __ b. Neuroendocrine Manifestations: loss of thermostatic stability – subnormal body temperature and marked diurnal fluctuation, sweating episodes, recurrent feelings of feverishness and cold extremities; intolerance of extremes of heat and cold; marked weight change - anorexia or abnormal appetite; loss of adaptability and worsening of symptoms with stress. __ c. Immune Manifestations: tender lymph nodes, recurrent sore throat, recurrent flu- like symptoms, general malaise, new sensitivities to food, medications and/or chemicals. __ 7. The illness persists for at least six months: It usually has a distinct onset, **although it may be gradual. Preliminary diagnosis may be possible earlier. Three months is appropriate for children. To be included, the symptoms must have begun or have been significantly altered after the onset of this illness. It is unlikely that a patient will suffer from all symptoms in criteria 5 & 6. The disturbances tend to form symptom clusters that may fluctuate and change over time. Children often have numerous prominent symptoms but their order of severity tends to vary from day to day. *There is a small number of patients who have no pain or sleep dysfunction, but no other diagnosis fits except ME/CFS. A diagnosis of ME/CFS can be entertained when this group has an infectious illness type onset. **Some patients have been unhealthy for other reasons prior to the onset of ME/ CFS and lack detectable triggers at onset or have more gradual or insidious onset. Exclusions: Exclude active disease processes that explain most of the major symptoms of fatigue, sleep disturbance, pain, and cognitive dysfunction. It is essential to exclude certain diseases, which would be tragic to miss: Addison’s disease, Cushing’s Syndrome, hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, iron deficiency, other treatable forms of anemia, iron overload syndrome, diabetes mellitus, and cancer. It is also essential to exclude treatable sleep disorders such as upper airway resistance syndrome and obstructive or central sleep apnea; rheumatological disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus,1 “Overload” refers to hypersensitivities to stimuli that have changed from pre-illness status.2 “Crash” refers to a temporary period of immobilizing physical and /or cognitive fatigue. 2 Carruthers, van de Sande
  9. 9. A Clinical Case Definition and Guidelines for Medical Practitioners polymyositis and polymyalgia rheumatica; immune disorders such as AIDS; neurological disorders such as multiple sclerosis (MS), Parkinsonism, myasthenia gravis and B12 deficiency; infectious diseases such as tuberculosis, chronic hepatitis, Lyme disease, etc.; primary psychiatric disorders and substance abuse. Exclusion of other diagnoses, which cannot be reasonably excluded by the patient’s history and physical examination, is achieved by laboratory testing and imaging. If a potentially confounding medical condition is under control, then the diagnosis of ME/CFS can be entertained if patients meet the criteria otherwise. Co-morbid Entities: Fibromyalgia Syndrome (FMS), Myofascial Pain Syndrome (MPS), Temporomandibular Joint Syndrome (TMJ), Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), Interstitial Cystitis, Irritable Bladder Syndrome, Raynaud’s Phenomenon, Prolapsed Mitral Valve, Depression, Migraine, Allergies, Multiple Chemical Sensitivities (MCS), Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, Sicca Syndrome, etc. Such co-morbid entities may occur in the setting of ME/CFS. Others such as IBS may precede the development of ME/CFS by many years, but then become associated with it. The same holds true for migraines and depression. Their association is thus looser than between the symptoms within the syndrome. ME/CFS and FMS often closely connect and should be considered to be “overlap syndromes”. Idiopathic Chronic Fatigue: If the patient has unexplained prolonged fatigue (6 months or more) but has insufficient symptoms to meet the criteria for ME/CFS, classify it as idiopathic chronic fatigue.Carruthers BM, Jain AK, De Meirleir KL, Peterson DL, Klimas NG, Lerner AM, Bested AC, Flor-Henry P, Joshi P, Powles ACP, Sherkey JA,van de Sande MI. MYALGIC ENCEPHALOMYELITIS / CHRONIC FATIGUE SYNDROME: Clinical Working Case Definition,Diagnostic and Treatment Protocols. Journal of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome 11(1):7-116, 2003. © Copyright 2003, Haworth PressInc., Article available from The Haworth Document Delivery Service: 1-800-722-5857,, Reprinted with permission.Application Notes approximate 50% reduction). Confirm symptom• Total illness burden is determined by severity and impact by dialogue with the observing and obtaining a complete description patient over time. of the patient’s symptoms, their interactions, • The hierarchy of symptom severity will and functional impact. vary over time and among patients. Periodic• Variability and coherence of symptoms: ranking of the severity and hierarchy of The cluster of symptoms exhibited will vary; symptom severity helps orient the treatment however they are connected by their temporal, program and monitor its effectiveness. coherent, and causal relationships. • Separate primary symptoms from• Symptom severity and impact: Symptom secondary symptoms and aggravators. severity is significant if it substantially impacts Symptom dynamics and interactions, and the the patient’s premorbid activity level (by an effects of aggravators should be noted.Dr. Leonard Jason’s study8 compared patients meeting the Canadian clinical criteria and Fukudacriteria for ME/CFS and control patients with chronic fatigue due to depression. Patientsmeeting the Canadian criteria were more physically ill, had greater physical functionalimpairment, greater fatigue/weakness, and more neurocognitive, neurological andcardiopulmonary abnormalities and had more impairments that significantly differentiatedthem from the psychiatric comparison group than did patients meeting the Fukuda criteria. SYMPTOMS AND SIGNS1. Fatigue definition, the patient’s activity level is reduced “Fatigue” is an inappropriate label because the by approximately 50% or more. Some patients fatigue experienced in ME/CFS is not normal are housebound or bedridden and dependent fatigue whereby energy is promptly restored on others for their daily care. ME/CFS “is with rest. The pathological “fatigue” actually more debilitating than most other experienced in ME/CFS may combine medical problems in the world”9 including exhaustion, weakness, heaviness, general patients undergoing chemotherapy and HIV malaise, lightheadedness, and sleepiness that patients (until about two weeks before death). can be overwhelmingly debilitating. By Cognitive fatiguing may be evident when the An Overview of the Canadian Consensus Document 3
  10. 10. Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome patient’s responses become slower, less 2. Post-Exertional Malaise and/or coherent, and s/he experiences more difficulty Fatigue in word and information retrieval. The Physical or mental exertion often causes pathological components of fatigue should be debilitating malaise and/or fatigue, generalized identified in order to provide appropriate pain, deterioration of cognitive functions, and treatment. Orthostatic intolerance, the inability worsening of other symptoms that may occur to tolerate sustained upright activity, may be immediately after activity or be delayed. associated with the overwhelming exhaustion, Patients experience rapid muscle fatigue and weakness, and urgency to lie down experienced lack endurance. These symptoms are in ME/CFS. Often there is arousal fatigue due suggestive of a pathophysiology which involves to poor sleep quality and sometimes quantity. immune system activation, channelopathy with Oxygenation fatigue is caused by insufficient oxidative stress and nitric oxide related oxygen being delivered to the brain and tissues. toxicity10, and/or orthostatic intolerance. In metabolic fatigue, the cells are unable to Recovery time is inordinately long, usually a transform substrates of energy into useful day or longer, and exercise may trigger a functions. Muscle fatigue is common. Patients relapse. The following chart indicates some of who also meet the criteria of FMS usually the documented dysfunctional reactions to experience structural fatigue. exercise that patients may exhibit11: Response to Exercise Healthy People ME/CFS Patients Sense of well-being Invigorating, anti- Feel malaise, fatigue and depressant effect worsening of symptoms1,12 Resting heart rate Normal Elevated13,14 Heart rate at maximum workload Elevated Reduced heart rate13,14 Maximum oxygen uptake Elevated Approximately ½ of sedentary controls13 Age-predicted target heart rate Can achieve it Often cannot achieve it and should not be forced13,14 Cardiac output Increased Sub-optimal level13,14 Cerebral blood flow Increased Decreased15,16 Cerebral oxygen Increased Decreased15 Body temperature Increased Decreased17 Respiration Increased Breathing irregularities: shortness of breath17, shallow breathing Cognitive processing Normal, more alert Impaired18 Recovery period Short Often 24 hours but can last days or weeks1,12,19 Oxygen delivery to the muscles Increased Impaired13 Gait kinematics Normal Gait abnormalities203. Sleep Dysfunction common. Vivid, disturbing dreams may occur. Research21 suggests that ME/CFS patients have Sleep problems are usually chronic rather than disrupted circadian rhythm, sleep onset intermittent. Insomnia often increases when difficulties, sleep maintenance disturbances and the patient is overly exhausted. Restless leg do not get into/or spend enough time in the syndrome and periodic limb movement disorder deeper phases of sleep. The EEG indicates may occur. A subset of patients may have alpha waves intrude into delta waves within upper airway resistance syndrome, sleep apnea non-REM sleep22. or other treatable sleep disorders. Hypersomnia is common, particularly in the 4. Pain acute stage. Sleep onset difficulties, The chronic pain is thought to be due to a fragmented sleep, non-restorative sleep, dysfunction of the pain processing areas of the morning exhaustion, and abnormal diurnal central nervous system23. Inappropriate pain variation of sleep rhythms and energy levels are signals are sent to and from the brain and 4 Carruthers, van de Sande
  11. 11. A Clinical Case Definition and Guidelines for Medical Practitioners body. Dysregulation of sodium channels and left brain inhibitory regulation of the right cellular ion transport may be involved in pain hemisphere during verbal cognitive symptoms. processing33. Quantitative assessment shows enlargement of the lateral cerebral ventricular Generalized myalgia or nonanatomical pain may volumes that may be associated with white occur randomly and is often migratory. The matter loss in the frontal and parietal lobes34. pain may be described as sharp, shooting, deep Some degree of encephalomyelitis may occur in aching, burning, throbbing, tingling, etc. Muscle the upper spinal motor and sensory nerve roots spasms, and new onset headaches, including and nerve networks transversing the brain tension headaches and migraines, are common. stem35. Abnormal function of ATP binding A subset of ME/CFS patients also meets the cassette (ABC) transporters may contribute to criteria of fibromyalgia syndrome and/or significant neurological dysfunction3. myofascial pain syndrome. Cognitive manifestations vary and become5. Neurological/Cognitive Manifestations more pronounced with fatigue. “Cognitive fog” Structural and functional neuroimaging suggest or confusion, slowed processing of information that neuropathic involvement plays a primary and reaction time, difficulty in word retrieval or role in causing a disruption of the normal speaking, concentration, attention, short-term coordination between the brain and the body. memory consolidation, and forgetfulness are In patients with ME/CFS, PET scans indicate common. Susceptibility to interference and decreased glucose metabolism in the right difficulty in processing complex information are mediofrontal cortex,24 and significant prominent. Selective memory processing hypoperfusion and hypometabolism in the brain deficits, such as experiencing more difficulty in stem25. SPECT brain scan analysis26 reveals recalling information when it is presented with significantly lower cortical/cerebellar regional greater semantic structure and contextual cerebral blood flow (rCBF) of the frontal, clues, may occur against a relatively normal parietal, temporal, occipital, and brain stem and cognitive background. Patients may become may play a role in cognitive impairment and dyslexic when overly fatigued. Neurocognitive activity limitations. MRI studies reveal elevated impairments involving concentration and numbers of irreversible punctuate lesions memory are cited as some of the most consistent with demyelination or edema, disruptive and functionally disabling symptoms predominantly in the frontal lobes27 and of ME/CFS. subcortical areas28. A controlled study29 using structural MRI voxel-based morphometry Overload Phenomena: Patients are often technique for measuring brain volume and hypersensitive to sensory stimulation including tissue concentration showed that the volume of noise, bright lights, temperature extremes, and gray matter of the brain was significantly odours. They have difficulty focusing their reduced and there was an average of 8% attention when there is more than one source reduction of brain tissue, which was a global of input, such as concomitant auditory and problem in patients. A previous MRI voxel-based visual input, cognitive and physical activity, and morphometry study30 indicated an average in fast-paced or confusing environments. reduction of 11.8% in gray-matter volume in the Emotional overload may be unduly stressful. bilateral prefrontal areas of patients compared Overload phenomena may trigger a “crash” to controls. fMRI studies31,32 demonstrate that where the patient becomes temporarily patients use more areas of the brain when immobilized by physical and/or mental fatigue involved in auditory cognitive activities, thus and recovery is slow. greater effort is required to do cognitive activities and may contribute to cognitive Motor and Perceptual Disturbances: fatigue. qEEG topography indicates elevated Muscle weakness and fasciculations are activity of intracerebral electrical sources in common. The patient may appear clumsy due theta and beta frequencies33. Delta and beta to loss of cognitive map, inaccurate body frequencies were particularly elevated in the left boundaries, poor muscle coordination, and/or frontal region in eyes closed condition. qEEG loss of balance. Difficulty with depth perception suggests reduced sources in the right and focusing vision may result in an inability to hemisphere (beta) due to interference with the accommodate walking on uneven surfaces, as well as spatial instability and disorientation. An Overview of the Canadian Consensus Document 5
  12. 12. Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Other symptoms: Visual accommodation and Symptoms may include lightheadedness, focusing difficulties, blurred or double vision and dizziness, nausea, fatigue, tremor, irregular dry eyes are common. Tinnitus may occur. breathing, headaches, visual changes, sweating, and rarely syncope.6. Autonomic Manifestations • Delayed postural hypotension occurs Chronic Orthostatic Intolerance (COI), when there is a drop in blood pressure ten the inability to sustain upright activity minutes or more after the patient stands. (standing, sitting or walking), is very • Palpitations with or without cardiac common and may be an important component in arrhythmias ME/CFS. Upon limited standing, the patient • Chest pain resembling angina and/or experiences overwhelming exhaustion, an thrombosis urgency to lie down, confusion, malaise, and worsening of other symptoms. Sitting and light Other common ANS symptoms walking are tolerated better than standing still, • Breathing dysregulations include but no upright activity is tolerated well. Lying breathing irregularities, sudden attacks of down helps alleviate symptoms. Tilt-table testing breathlessness, exertional dyspnea, and may be helpful in diagnosis but some patients holding the breath inappropriately. may have a normal tilt-table test and still have • Intestinal irregularities: Constipation, severe COI. Quiet standing in the office allows diarrhea, alternating diarrhea/constipation, for observation and monitoring the blood irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), abdominal pressure and pulse. Note: This must only be pain, cramps, and nausea are common. done with extreme CAUTION with someone • Bladder dysfunction may include bladder standing beside the patient at all times in order pain, urinary frequency, dysuria, and to support him/her if s/he begins to feel weak! nocturia. • Alternating sweating and shivering Research36 suggests a low circulating episodes erythrocyte volume (approximately 70% of • Painful vascular spasm in extremities normal on average), but not plasma volume in with cold or hot feelings ME/CFS patients. Blood may pool in the legs, abdomen, and sometimes hands. This may 7. Neuroendocrine Manifestations decrease effective blood volume and contribute Centrally mediated dysfunction (impaired to COI. Lower stroke volume and cardiac activation) of the hypothalamic-pituitary- output, and reduced circulation correlate with adrenocortical axis39 may be associated with symptom severity37. Treadmill walking suggests dysfunction of the autonomic and immune significantly reduced vagal power38. Autonomic system. Significantly reduced pancreatic dysfunction underlies COI and its subtypes of exocrine function may lead to malabsorption. neurally mediated hypotension, postural COI, • Loss of thermostatic stability: Altered orthostatic hypotension, and orthostatic body temperature (often subnormal but narrowing of pulse pressure. occasionally febrile), marked diurnal • Neurally mediated hypotension (NMH) fluctuation, alternating feelings of hot or involves a precipitous drop of more than 20- cold (sometimes with unusual distribution), 25 mm of mercury of systolic blood pressure recurrent feelings of feverishness, and upon standing, or standing still. Symptoms sweating episodes may occur. may include lightheadedness, dizziness, • Heat/cold intolerance is common and pressure-like chest pain over the left chest, may be accompanied by worsening of other visual changes, weakness, slowed verbal symptoms. response, pallor, an urgency to lie down, • Marked weight change and sometimes syncope. • Hypoglycemia • Postural orthostatic tachycardia • Hypothalamic/pituitary/adrenal axis syndrome (POTS): Upon standing there is and ANS dysregulation may lessen patients’ rapid action of the heart, either an increase adaptability to stressful and overload of over 30 beats per minute or a rate situations. Stress may cause disorientation, greater than 120 beats per minute during 10 anxiety, worsening of other symptoms, and minutes of standing, plus or minus a drop in trigger a “crash”. Recovery is slow. blood pressure. Tachycardia is more common than low blood pressure. 6 Carruthers, van de Sande
  13. 13. A Clinical Case Definition and Guidelines for Medical Practitioners8. Immune Manifestations enzymes may lead to hypothyroidism while the Many infectious agents may trigger ME/CFS. A thyroid hormone levels in the blood are normal. subset of patients appears to have human cytomegalovirus or Epstein-Barr herpes virus Acute onset patients usually exhibit more infection of the heart40, and viral infections of immune dysfunction. Immune activation the brain have been discovered in autopsies. As symptoms, particularly in the acute onset stage, human herpesvirus-6 (HHV-6)41 is regarded as may sometimes occur in the absence of known an important pathogen, those patients testing viral exposure. Physical exercise and overload positive should be referred to an infectious situations may trigger or exacerbate immune disease specialist. Hypercoagulation may be symptoms. triggered by dysfunction of the endothelial cells • General malaise in patients with active HHV6. The elevated • Tender lymphadenopathy, particularly in levels of many intracellular pathogens suggest the cervical, and axillary inguinal regions that immune dysfunction plays a primary role. • Recurrent sore throat The upregulation of the 2-5A synthetase/RNase • Faucial injection and crimson L pathway in ME/CFS patients indicates an crescents may be seen in the tonsil fossae activated immune state. This state has been • New sensitivities to food, medication linked to a perturbed apoptotic (cellular suicide) and/or chemicals process resulting in an accumulation of RNase L fragments because the nuclei cannot ingest all Features in Young People the resulting fragments and cannot reutilize Children may be diagnosed when suggestive them. The cell death and scattering of RNA symptoms last more than 3 months. Numerous debris may alter immunological functions and symptoms may have similar severity but the lower ATP reserves, magnesium and particularly hierarchy of severity differs more dramatically from cell potassium levels42. Although testing for day to day than in adults. Severe exhaustion, cleavage of the native 80 kDa RNase-L molecule weakness, pain, and mood changes make life very using patients meeting the Clinical Definition is challenging. Cognitive abilities deteriorate yet to be done, we postulate that the results particularly in topics requiring analysis, multi-task would be similar to the 80% of patients testing activities, fast-paced or confusing environments, positive using the 1988 Holmes definition. The and with physical and mental fatigue. Severely ratio of abnormal low 37 kDa RNase-L to normal affected young people may be bed-ridden. Because 80 kDa RNase-L3 is associated with low oxygen activity level is reduced by about 50% or more, consumption of patients and corresponds to young people have difficulty or are unable to clinical status. PKR is simultaneously maintain a full school program44. Unlike school upregulated. Perforin, a cell lytic protein that phobia, these young people spend most of their correlates with the cell’s cytolytic potential, is out-of-school time resting. 51% of British students reduced in Natural Killer (NK) cells suggesting a with long-term school absenteeism suffered from molecular basis for NK cytotoxicity43. Cytokine ME/CFS45. A supportive letter from the treating profiles suggest a shift of Th1, which controls physician outlining the patient’s medical condition intracellular infection, to Th22. Activated and limitations, and open communication between lymphocytes and elevated immunoglobulins, physician and school is helpful. TEACH-ME: A particularly IgG, have been found. Immune tests Sourcebook for Teachers of Young People with indicating low NK cell levels and function per Myalgic Encephalomyelitis / Chronic Fatigue cell, measurements of protein kinase 1, and Syndrome and Fibromyalgia Syndrome,44 will assist activated immune complex may be helpful2. teachers and parents in understanding symptoms in Interferon induced production of 2-50 AS young people and provide strategies for educational planning and accommodations. CLINICAL EVALUATION OF ME/CFS It is important to recognize the characteristic features of ME/CFS, as well as to exclude alternate explanations for a patient’s symptoms. A. PATIENT HISTORY: A thorough history, including a complete description of patient’s symptoms as well as their severity and functional impact must be taken before attempting to classify them. 1. FOCUS ON THE PRINCIPAL SYMPTOMS OF ME/CFS: including post-exertional malaise, fatigue, An Overview of the Canadian Consensus Document 7
  14. 14. Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome sleep dysfunction, pain and symptoms from neurological/cognitive, autonomic, endocrine and immune dysfunctions. Examine the course of the symptoms, with special attention to the worsening of symptoms after exertion, prolonged recovery and fluctuating course.2. PRESENTING COMPLAINT AND AGGRAVATING/AMELIORATING EVENTS • Date of onset • Trigger or prodromal event • Symptoms at onset • Progression of symptoms • Duration of symptoms • Hierarchy of quality and severity of current symptoms • Worsening of symptoms with exertion: symptoms which require prolonged recovery • Secondary symptoms & aggravators • Energy/Fatigue (great 100%): good day _________%, bad day ________%. • Sleep Quality: good ________, moderate _________, poor _________ • Pain Severity: absent _______, mild _______, moderate _______, severe ______ • Total burden of symptom severity & current level of physical function3. MEDICATION HISTORY: current, past, prescribed & other therapies, & sensitivities4. SENSITIVITIES AND ALLERGY HISTORY: including new sensitivities and allergies and change in status of pre-existing ones5. PAST HISTORY: earlier illnesses, exposure to environmental, work, and other toxins6. FAMILY HISTORY7. SYSTEMS REVIEW: Many symptoms involve more than one system. Attention paid to: • Musculoskeletal: myalgia, muscle weakness, or arthralgia • CNS: fatigue with post-exertional exacerbation, neurocognitive complaints, headaches, sleep disturbance • ANS & Cardiorespiratory: palpitations, exertional dyspnea, symptoms suggestive of neurally mediated hypotension (NMH), postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS), delayed postural orthostatic intolerance, vertigo, light-headedness, respiratory disturbances, extreme pallor • ANS & GI & GU: intestinal or bladder disturbances with or without IBS • Neuroendocrine: loss of thermostatic stability, heat/cold intolerance, marked weight change, loss of adaptability and tolerance for stress and slow recovery, emotional lability • Immune: general malaise, ‘flu-like’ feeling, recurrent sore throat, hypersensitivity to foods, medications or chemicalsB. PHYSICAL EXAMINATION: Standard physical exam, with attention paid to: • Musculoskeletal System: including FMS tender point exam (appendix 6). Check joints for inflammation, hypermobility, & restricted movement. Muscle strength: _______________ Positive tender points ________/18. Meets criteria for FMS _________, MPS _______ • CNS: including reflex examination (Reflex examination during neck flexion and extension may accentuate abnormalities arising from cervical myelopathic changes)._______________ Tandem walk: forwards ________ backwards ________ Romberg test ______________ • Cognitive: ability to remember questions, cognitive fatiguing (e.g. serial 7 subtraction) & cognitive interference (e.g. serial 7 subtraction & tandems done simultaneously) • Cardiorespiratory System: Arrhythmias, BP (first lying down), BP (immediately after standing). • GI System: increased bowel sounds, abdominal bloating and/or tenderness • Endocrine System: thyroid, adrenal and pituitary dysfunction • Immune System: tender lymphadenopathy in the cervical, axillary, & inguinal regions (especially in acute stage) __________ Crimson crescents in the tonsillar fossae ________C. LABORATORY AND INVESTIGATIVE PROTOCOL: A thorough work up must be done. • Routine Laboratory Tests: CBC, ESR, Ca, P, Mg, blood glucose, serum electrolytes, TSH, protein electrophoresis screen, CRP, ferritin, creatinine, rheumatoid factor, antinuclear antibody, CPK and liver function, as well as routine urinalysis.ADDITIONAL TESTING: In addition to the routine laboratory tests, additional tests should bechosen on an individual basis depending on the patient’s case history, clinical evaluation,laboratory findings, risk factors & co-morbid conditions. • Further Laboratory Tests: diurnal cortisol levels, 24 hour urine free cortisol; hormones including8 Carruthers, van de Sande
  15. 15. A Clinical Case Definition and Guidelines for Medical Practitioners free testosterone, B12 and folate levels, DHEA sulphate, 5-HIAA screen, abdominal ultra sound, stool for ova and parasites, NK cell activity, flow cytometry for lymphocyte activity, Western blot test for Lyme disease, chest x-ray, TB skin test, and HIV. Do testing for 37-kDa 2-5A RNase L immunoassay. • Differential Brain Function & Static Testing: for those with positive neurological findings • X-RAY &/or MRI of Brain and Spinal Cord: to rule out multiple sclerosis (MS) and other primary neurological disorders. MRI interpretation: it is important to look for changes that are easily overlooked such as dynamic disc bulges/herniation or minor stenosis, which can be important in the pathogenesis. • Tilt Table Test: (If indicated, test prior to giving medication for orthostatic intolerance.) • Sleep Study: to show decrease in time spent in stage 4 sleep or rule out treatable sleep dysfunctions. • qEEG, SPECT and PET Scans and Spectrography: if indicated • 24-HOUR HOLTER MONITORING: repetitively oscillating T-wave inversions and/or T-wave flats during 24-hour monitoring. Note: this pattern may not be reported or subsumed under non- specific T-wave changes. _____ME/CFS: If the patient’s presentation meets the criteria for ME/CFS, classify the diagnosis as ME/CFS, except when the specified exclusions are present. _____Idiopathic chronic fatigue: chronic fatigue but does not meet the criteria for ME/CFS or have alternative explanation NEW SYMPTOMS: People with ME/CFS can develop other medical problems. New symptoms need to be appropriately investigated.Carruthers BM, Jain AK, De Meirleir KL, Peterson DL, Klimas NG, Lerner AM, Bested AC, Flor-Henry P, Joshi P, Powles ACP, Sherkey JA,van de Sande MI. MYALGIC ENCEPHALOMYELITIS/CHRONIC FATIGUE SYNDROME: Clinical Working Case Definition,Diagnostic and Treatment Protocols. Journal of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome 11(1):7-116, 2003, pp.105-6. © Copyright 2003,Haworth Press Inc., Journal of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Available from Haworth Document Delivery Service: 1-800-722-5857, Patient Evaluation Worksheet reprinted slightly condensed, with permission.A clear diagnosis often has a considerable therapeutic benefit as it reduces uncertainty andorients therapy. Early diagnosis may assist in lessening the impact of ME/CFS.Differences Between ME/CFS and nodes, cardiopulmonary symptoms, COI,Fibromyalgia Syndrome (FMS) tachycardia, and a cluster of cognitiveME/CFS is commonly triggered by a viral infection. impairments, which are not commonly seen inThere is usually greater fatigue, post-exertional depression. Some ME/CFS patients may suffermalaise and fatigue, and cognitive, cardiac and from reactive depression due to theirimmune dysfunction than in FMS. Pain is the most pathophysiological impairments and reducedprominent feature in FMS, which is often triggered quality of life, but many objective indices canby physical trauma. Many ME/CFS patients also differentiate ME/CFS from primary the criteria for FMS. The research test3 for • Somatoform Disorder: There is somederegulation of an antiviral defense pathway can symptom overlap between somatoformdistinguish ME/CFS from FMS. Patients meeting disorders and ME/CFS. However, somatoformboth criteria test the same as ME/CFS patients. disorder patients often have a long history of complaints starting before thirty years of age.Differences Between ME/CFS and In order to diagnose any type of somatoformPsychiatric Disorders disorder, the symptoms cannot be “fullyME/CFS is not synonymous with psychiatric explained by any demonstrable general medicaldisorder. Pay careful attention to the characteristics, condition, by the direct effects of a substance,dynamics of progression, and correlation of or by another mental disorder”. Many objectivesymptoms. biophysiological findings have been• Depression: Reactions to exercise (see chart demonstrated to underlie the symptoms of on page 4) are helpful in distinguishing ME/CFS ME/CFS. Patients meeting the criteria of from depression. ME/CFS patients have ME/CFS must be excluded from the diagnosis of symptoms such as joint and muscle pain, Somatoform Disorder. Member countries of the severe headaches, recurrent sore throats and World Health Organization (WHO) are obliged upper respiratory infections, tender lymph to adhere to the regulations of the WHO’s An Overview of the Canadian Consensus Document 9
  16. 16. Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome International Classification of Diseases (ICD) longer mutually exclusive”. Thus, ME (and and use their ICD classification. In a letter CFS), classified as a neurological disease dated January 23, 2004, Andre l’Hours of WHO in the WHO ICD, cannot also be classified headquarters clarified that “it is not permitted as somatoform disorder, which is for the same condition to be classified to more classified as a mental or behaviour than one rubic as this would mean that the disorder. individual categories and subcategories were no TREATMENT GUIDELINESGoals 2. All rehabilitative personnel must beEarly intervention can minimize the effects of knowledgeable about ME/CFS.ME/CFS in some patients. 3. The biological pathophysiology of1. Top priorities are patient support and ME/CFS is a reality that must be well-being: Reduce the patient’s confusion respected and reflected in all treatment with a positive diagnosis, reassure continuing and rehabilitative programs. Total illness care, and give realistic hope. A climate of illness burden, impairments, low endurance, overload disbelief may lead to risk of suicide. It is phenomena, and fluctuation of symptom essential for the patient’s physiological and severity and activity boundaries must be psychological well-being that s/he is able to respected. Focus on reducing symptomatology maintain autonomy concerning the pacing and and maintaining function. It is essential that complexity of activities and programs. the patient does not exceed his/her endurance limitations or activity boundaries too often or2. Patient empowerment: Respect the patient’s too deeply because this can cause a severe, knowledge of his/her body and experiences. long-term relapse.3. Optimizing functional ability: Assist the 4. Involve the patient in setting realistic patient in setting personal, emotional, and goals and developing an individualized, activity boundaries in which s/he can be as flexible program conducive to healing. active as possible without aggravating The patient must have autonomy concerning symptoms, and then encourage him/her to the complexity and pacing of activities, and gradually extend boundaries at his/her own incorporate rest periods as needed. Begin the pace, and as able. program at a level that will ensure success, assist the patient in recognizing early warningGuidelines signs, and plan alternate strategies for low-1. The treating physician knows the patient energy days. The goal is for the patient to be best and should direct and coordinate treatment as active as possible without exacerbating and rehabilitative efforts. symptoms. Patients can explore ways to increase activity boundaries if and when able. SELF-HELP STRATEGIES (SHS)A hypothesis underlying the use of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) for ME/CFS is basedon the premise that the patient’s impairments are learned due to wrong thinking and“considers the pathophysiology of CFS to be entirely reversible and perpetuated only by theinteraction of cognition, behaviour, and emotional processes. The patient merely has to changetheir thinking and their symptoms will be gone. According to this model, CBT should not onlyimprove the quality of the patient’s life, but could be potentially curative”46. Supporterssuggest that “ideally general practitioners should diagnose CFS and refer patients topsychotherapists for CBT without detours to medical specialists as in other functional somaticsyndromes”47. Proponents ignore the documented pathophysiology of ME/CFS, disregard the 10 Carruthers, van de Sande
  17. 17. A Clinical Case Definition and Guidelines for Medical Practitionersreality of the patients’ symptoms, blame them for their illness, and withhold medical treatment.Their studies have often included patients who have chronic fatigue but excluded more severecases as well as those who have other symptoms that are part of the clinical criteria of ME/CFS.Further, their studies fail to cure or improve physiological impairments such as OI, sore throat,IBS, etc. Dr. A. Komaroff48, a Harvard based world authority, stated that the evidence ofbiological process “is inconsistent with the hypothesis that (the syndrome) involves symptomsthat are only imagined or amplified because of underlying psychiatric distress. It is time to putthat hypothesis to rest”. Some physicians, who are cognizant of the biological pathophysiologyof ME/CFS, teach patients coping skills but call them “CBT”. We urge such doctors to use theterm “Self-Help Strategies” and avoid using the terms “Cognitive Behaviour Therapy” and“Cognitive Retraining Therapy”.Self-help Strategies (SHS) assist patients in are prime concerns. Over-exhaustion maycoping with their chronic illness by conserving increase insomnia.)energy, minimizing symptom flare-ups, and • establish a regular bedtime and do quietmaximizing coping skills and functionality. activities, or use relaxation tapes before bedtime1. Patient Education: • have a warm bath before bed to relax their • Meet with the patient and her/his body and keep their body warm at night meaningful others as soon as possible after • reserve bed for sleep and sex diagnosis to discuss the illness, what to • give their body proper postural support e.g. expect, develop SHS, and provide use a contoured pillow educational information. • keep the bedroom as a “worry-free • Assist patients in recognizing aggravators sanctuary” and early warning signs so they can stop • do calming and slowing meditations if sleep before exceeding their activity boundaries is impossible and prevent crashes. Encourage patients to take their temperature before and after an 4. Balanced Diet and Nutritional activity. If their temperature drops after an Considerations: Encourage patients to activity, they may have done too much. • eat a balanced, nutritious diet and eat • Provide information on relaxation and stress meals at regular times reduction techniques. • keep well hydrated • Provide information regarding energy • take a multi-enzyme tablet with meals if conservation techniques and environmental indicated or if they have IBS modifications. • take nutritional supplements as needed. • Encourage avoidance of known aggravators (The biochemistry and needs of each as much as possible in order to prevent patient is unique. Chronically ill patients flare-ups. require nutritional support for healing. If practical, a vitamin and mineral profile can2. Self-Development: Encourage patients to assist in assuring that the patient is • trust their feelings and experiences receiving adequate nutrients and indicate • set aside a time to rest and do something specific deficiencies. Start with a one-a-day they enjoy vitamin/mineral supplement, replenish • set personal and activity boundaries and electrolytes, and add supplements as find their optimal activity rhythms required.) • gradually extend boundaries, if and when able, but do not exceed activity boundaries 5. Body Movement and Fitness: Encourage patients to3. Maximizing Sleep: Patients should be • use good body mechanics and use encouraged to techniques and practices, such as yoga, to • conserve energy by pacing daytime improve balance activities • stay active within their limitations; avoid • listen to their body signals and incorporate activities and work which takes them rest periods into their day as needed. beyond their capacity (Sleep dysfunction and low energy reserves An Overview of the Canadian Consensus Document 11
  18. 18. Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome SELF-POWERED EXERCISEEven though post-exertional malaise/fatigue is a • Minimize relapses: Exercise should behallmark feature and a criterion of ME/CFS, patients individualized, based on the patient’sare often prescribed exercise unwisely. Research abilities/limitation, accommodate energystudies confirm that ME/CFS patients have different fluctuations, and focus on improving function.physiological responses to exercise than those who Exercises must be very gentle and carefullyare healthy or depressed, as indicated in the chart paced. Incorporate frequent rest breaks toon page 4. While not all patients exhibit all of these ensure complete recovery. Often it may beabnormal reactions, most exhibit some of them. appropriate to begin with two minute exerciseTraditional exercise programs can provoke relapses. periods three times weekly. The patient should be well hydrated before exercising.As much care must be taken in prescribing exercise • Accommodate circulatory and cardiacas prescribing medication to ME/CFS patients49. impairments: Many patients have reducedExercise must be individualized, entered into maximum heart rates and must not be pushedcautiously, and monitored diligently. Exercise towards standardized age-predicted targetprograms should adhere to the previously stated heart rates. Significantly impaired oxygengoals and guidelines and the following principles: consumption levels suggest there may be an abnormal reliance on anaerobic energy1. Initial Patient Evaluation: A thorough pathways during exercise in patients with history and examination, with particular ME/CFS, thus exercises that would be aerobic attention to cardiac vascular responses to for healthy individuals may be anaerobic for activity, must be completed before considering patients. Any graded exercise expansion may any exercise program. The reality of the unique be inappropriate for some. medical issues, biological dysfunctions and • Maximize self-efficacy: Involve patients in limitations, risk factors, and pain generators planning. It is imperative for them to maintain must be identified and addressed. autonomy over the intensity and pacing of2. Medical Management must be optimized exercise and activities. before introducing exercise. Patients with less Cautions: There are potential dangers if ME/CFS severe symptoms that are under control may patients are pushed to increase their heart rate to benefit from very gentle exercise to maintain age-predicted target heart rates. As indicated in functionality. Some patients may only be able the chart on page 4, research studies suggest that to exercise in bed, but exercise is not their hearts may be functioning at a suboptimal recommended for all patients. level and many have autonomic disturbances; thus3. Principles of Treatment: Exercise should be they may not be able to accommodate the normal done under the guidance of a well qualified target heart rate. Externally paced “Graded exercise physiologist or physical therapist, who Exercise Programs” or programs based on the is knowledgeable about ME/CFS. premise that patients are misperceiving their activity limits or illness must be avoided. SYMPTOM MANAGEMENT & TREATMENTThe Consensus Document (pages 49-67) provides 1. Sleep Disturbance: Sleep quality andguidelines, dosage, effects and level of evidence for quantity must be taken into consideration.commonly used pharmaceuticals, and are ranked in a. Physical remedies: See “Maximizingorder of the preference of the members of the Sleep” in the previous section on Self-HelpConsensus Panel. Many patients are hypersensitive Strategies. Patients need to incorporate restto medication so begin dosage at a lower level than periods into their day as required.recommended. Start low, go slow. Warn patients Associated sleep dysfunctions should beabout possible side effects. No pharmaceutical is treated, such as upper airway resistanceuniversally effective. Keep regime as simple, safe, syndrome, and a positive pressure mask caneffective, and inexpensive as possible. be prescribed for sleep apnea. 12 Carruthers, van de Sande
  19. 19. A Clinical Case Definition and Guidelines for Medical Practitioners b. Other remedies: melatonin, valerian, c. B12/Cyanocobalamin: Anecdotal reports calcium and magnesium salts, aroma and studies suggest some ME/CFS patients therapy with normal blood counts improve in energy c. Pharmaceuticals: Low dose tricyclic level, cognitive ability, weakness, and mood antidepressants (short-term at low dose but with mega dose B12 injections, possibly due side effects can be severe, and patients to a reduced ability in transporting B12 into must be warned about possible weight the cells or low CNS B12 levels. gain), zopiclone, clonazepam, and L- tryptophan may be helpful. SSRI’s, such as 4. Cognitive Manifestations Prozac, may worsen sleep fragmentation. a. Physical remedies: Some patients are able to think better in a semi-reclined position or2. Pain lying down. Speech therapy may be helpful a. Physical remedies: Avoid known pain in treating problems with word-finding, exacerbators such as prolonged sitting, information processing and memory. Mindful standing, writing, computer work, and any meditation, mental exercises, reading within bend over work posture; and heavy lifting, one’s ability and then learning new housework, and gardening. Relaxation information or skills, as one is able, may be techniques, local heat, a warm bath and of assistance. gentle stretching of muscles, mobilization of b. Pharmaceuticals: Try methylphenidate, joints, magnetic pulsers, and Bio-Resonance modafinil, nimodipine, dextroamphetamine, therapy may assist in alleviating pain. cyanocobalamin - see (3c) and cautions Gentle massage therapy, physiotherapy, (3b). chiropractic treatments, acupuncture, EMG biofeedback, spray and stretch if tolerated, 5. Autonomic Manifestations myofascial release techniques including Orthostatic Intolerance and Dizziness needling to release taut muscles, ultrasound a. Physical remedies: If dizziness is caused and electronic muscle and nerve stimulation by proprioceptive disturbances in the neck, may be helpful in some cases. Synaptic instruct the patient to avoid extension or Electronic Activation Technology (SEA quick rotation of the neck. If caused by Tech®) has shown promising longer term orthostatic intolerance, patients should get pain relief. SEA Tech® is contraindicated in up slowly while holding on to something and pregnancy and if pacemakers are present. avoid standing for extended periods of time. b. Pharmaceuticals: Use acetaminophen as Use of support stockings, avoiding large a baseline analgesic. Short-term use of low meals and dehydration, and pumping legs dose tricyclic antidepressants, NSAID intermittently when sitting may be helpful. analgesics, gabapentin, and baclofen may Immediately lying down at the first signs of be useful. dizziness usually relieves the symptoms caused by neurally mediated hypotension3. Fatigue: Treat sleep disturbance before (NMH) and postural orthostatic tachycardia attempting to treat fatigue. syndrome (POTS). a. Physical remedies: Self-Help Strategies b. Pharmaceuticals: Before starting any including setting priorities and boundaries, pharmaceutical treatment for NMH or POTS, balancing activities with rest periods, these conditions should be confirmed by a simplifying tasks and using adaptive devices tilt-table test. A combination of therapies are important. Breathing exercises, usually has the best result. Begin by restorative resting postures, massage increasing salt intake if the patient is not therapy, craniosacral therapy, and hypertensive; then either add a beta blocker aromatherapy for those without chemical (e.g. atenolol), or an alpha 1 agonist (e.g. sensitivities may be helpful. midodrine). Midodrine is usually more b. Pharmaceuticals: methylphenidate, oral effective than florinef for chronic orthostatic cyanocobalamin, modafinil, amantadine, tachycardia. If increased salt intake helps dextroamphetamine. Most fatigue killers initially but loses its effect, consider have short term effects and may not help fludrocortisone. If these therapies are not overall endurance and work capacity; they effective, consider paroxetine. Vertigo may not extend crash points. requires an anti-nauseant such as meclozine, An Overview of the Canadian Consensus Document 13
  20. 20. Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome but no treatment is particularly effective. Hypoglycemia: food low on the glycemic Meditative techniques may help mild cases. index may be beneficial Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS): Adjust diet 7. Immune Manifestations and conduct food elimination trials to determine a. Immune stimulator and viral food intolerance. Use antispasmodics and anti- modulator: ampligen. Essential fatty acids diarrheal agents judiciously. (EFA) have been used for their antiviral effect.6. Neuroendocrine Manifestations b. Antiviral therapies: Valacyclovir may be Anxiety States helpful for confirmed herpes infection. a. Physical remedies: Self-help strategies Herbal remedies such as wild oregano and (SHS) assist in developing coping skills. olive leaf extract may have antiviral effects. Relaxation techniques such as slow deep c. Antibiotic treatment for mycoplasma breathing, listening to soothing music, a and chlamydia: Suggested antibiotic warm relaxing bath, massage therapy, and treatments for confirmed mycoplasma or if the patient is able, gentle aquacise, chlamydia infections include doxycycline, swimming or walking can reduce tension. clarithromycin, ciprofloxacin, azithromycin Herbs such as lavender and thyme may be and bioxin. Use with caution and accompany helpful in some cases. Some patients may treatment with probiotics and immune benefit from supportive counseling. boosters. b. Pharmaceuticals: Benzodiazepines and buspirone are commonly used. Blood Donations: Donating blood is not recommended because it may exacerbate symptoms Depression due to low circulating blood volume. It is possible a. Physical remedies: Reactive depression that some patients carry infectious agents in their may result from living with a poorly blood.50 understood chronic illness which has the complex symptom set of ME/CFS and the Immunization: Live vaccine immunization is greatly reduced functionality associated generally not recommended because of the risk of with it. SHS, massage, and bright light worsening symptoms and triggering relapses. therapy may be helpful. Patients who are Research has confirmed a frequent dysfunction of severely depressed should be referred for the 2-5A synthetase/ribonuclease L antiviral defense supportive counseling. pathway in many patients3. Because of these risks, b. Pharmaceuticals: SSRIs are the first line decisions regarding vaccinations must remain with choice but usually are ineffective in treating the treating physician and the patient. If fatigue and may interfere with sleep. Newer immunization is done, it is generally recommended antidepressants such as venlafaxine, that injections be administered by the treating nefazodone or buproprion may be of physician and the dose be divided into three or four assistance. Most ME/CFS patients cannot mini doses, each given a full month apart to ensure tolerate a high enough dosage of tricyclic there are no delayed reactions. antidepressants to be effective in depression, but low doses may be effective for pain and sleep, if tolerated. Great strides have been made in the knowledge c. Herbal and mineral remedies: Patients about ME/CFS in the last decade. Now it is time for with low red blood cell magnesium have an intensive research program in order to bring a improved with intramuscular magnesium greater understanding and successful treatment of sulphate in some cases. St. John’s Wort patients. It would be helpful to establish patient may be effective in mild depression but subgroups, such as those who are in the acute or should not be used for marked depression chronic stage, mild or severe cases, and viral or or taken with other antidepressants. other onset. The establishment of a Centre of Excellence where the same patients are used in Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal (HPA) numerous studies and the research findings shared Axis Abnormalities amongst researchers may clarify information and Pharmaceuticals: fludrocortisone, (DHEA) assist in the efficient use of treatment for the dehydroepinandrosterone different subsets of patients. 14 Carruthers, van de Sande
  21. 21. A Clinical Case Definition and Guidelines for Medical Practitioners Appendix 1: SYMPTOM SEVERITY AND SEVERITY HIERARCHY PROFILE NAME______________________________________________ DATE __________________ 1. Rank your symptoms in order of severity (1 being your most severe symptom) in the left column. 2. Rate severity of symptoms by putting a check mark in appropriate column to the right of symptoms. Symptom Severity and Severity Hierarchy Profile RANK SYMPTOM Absent Mild Moder- Severe (0) (1) ate (2) (3) Post-exertional fatigue: loss of physical and mental stamina, fatigue made worse by physical exertion Long recovery period from exertion: takes more than 24 hours to recover to pre-exertion activity level Fatigue: persistent, marked fatigue that substantially reduces activity level Sleep Disturbance: non-restorative sleep, insomnia, hypersomnia Pain: in muscles, joints, headaches Memory disturbance: poor short term memory Confusion and difficulty concentrating Difficulty retrieving words or saying the wrong word Gastrointestinal disturbance: diarrhea, IBS Recurrent sore throat Recurrent flu-like symptoms Dizziness or weakness upon standing Change in body temperature, erratic body temperature, cold hand and feet Heat / cold intolerance Hot flushes, sweating episodes Marked weight change Breathless with exertion Tender lymph nodes: especially at sides of neck and under arms Sensitive to light, noise, or odours Muscle weakness New sensitivities to food / medications /chemicals Total Check Marks in Column x0 x1 x2 x3 Column TotalTotal Score: ____________ Overall symptom severity: _______ mild, ______ moderate, ______ severe(Mild – occurring at rest, moderate – symptoms that occur at rest become severe with effort, unable to work, andsevere – often housebound or bed-bound.)Other symptoms _________________________________________________________________________________Aggravators _________________________________________________________________________Change in symptoms ___________________________________________________________________How good is your sleep on a scale of 1-5? (5 – good restorative sleep, 1 – no sleep) _________________________How do you feel today on a scale of 1 – 10? (10 – terrific, 1 – totally bedridden) ___________________Carruthers BM, Jain AK, De Meirleir K, et al. Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: Clinical Working Case Definition,Diagnostic and Treatment Protocols – A Consensus Document. Journal of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome 11(1):7-116, 2003. © Copyright2003 Haworth Press. Document available at 1-800-HAWORTH,, Reprintedslightly modified and condensed with permission. An Overview of the Canadian Consensus Document 15