Beat Chronic Fatigue Syndrome with sense of balance and stability
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Most people have trouble balancing a hectic work schedule, commute and social life. For those with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), also known as myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME) this balance has to be completely re-addressed.
CFS causes persistent exhaustion, as well as symptoms such as a disturbance in concentration and loss of short-term memory. As there is no known cure, each patient needs to learn to manage their symptoms and find a new equilibrium.
East Finchley osteopath Robin Kiashek finds one of the most important treatments is learning to pace yourself.
“It’s educating the patient that they can’t do 20 things; they have to do 10 things,” he says. “It’s getting patients to slow down.”
Kiashek is a Perrin practitioner; a type of osteopath who practises a treatment for CFS called the Perrin technique, which encourages the patient to learn to manage their symptoms and self-treat.
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The technique is being researched by the NHS and Kiashek hopes it will lead to a speedier diagnosis and treatment of the illness. For now, it is only used privately, but if the NHS accepts the diagnostic principles behind the practice, it could become more widely available in the future.
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Outside of consultation hours, Kiashek says that patients are taught to massage themselves daily in a specific way to drain toxins from the central nervous system. The osteopath adds that it can be harder to treat younger people as “it’s not a quick fix. It does require daily lymphatic drainage. And sometimes younger people don’t have the self-discipline to stick with it”.
During consultations, patients are given specific lymphatic drainage of the head, neck, back and chest areas, using light pressure.
Once ignorantly referred to as “yuppie flu”, CFS remains a mystery illness as the cause is not known.
The NHS advice page suggests various theories including viral infections, hormone imbalance, or psychiatric problems such as stress and emotional trauma.
The mystery surrounding CFS means that it is best if patients receive tailored treatment.
Kiashek explains: “Part of what we have to do as Perrin practitioners is understand the person behind the illness. We look at how a patient arrives at a certain point in their lives and that can be a very personal story; maybe they have been very run down through various life stresses, both physically, or emotionally.”
Patients need to learn how to monitor their symptoms and achieve balance in their lives.
“The difficulty is that once patients start to get better, they stop pacing so well and because they’ve been ill for so long, they want to get back to a normal life, which is understandable. People respond differently according to their lifestyle,” he adds.
Kiashek gives the example of one patient with a demanding and sociable job in the music business.
“Her friends were asking her on Facebook to come out and party, and of course, because she’s about 50 per cent better, she was tempted to. But if she goes out and drinks, she relapses.”
Kiashek is qualified in various therapies, including life-coaching and nutrition, which he uses with the Perrin technique. He finds that “the mind affects the physical body and the physical body affects the mind, so they play off each other”.
“I try to tailor treatment, whether it’s through relaxation exercise or dietary change – people are complex, physically, emotionally, and everyone’s background is interwoven with lots of different factors.”
CFS patients do not need to be bedridden and with careful treatment they can start to re-gain their study, work and social lives. Like any of us, it is just a question of pacing ourselves, and finding that ever-elusive sense of harmony and stability.