Pain Characteristics of People with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome – Source: Journal of Musculoskeletal Pain, June 2010

Objectives: Until now, there has been a lack of fundamental research into the pain experienced in chronic fatigue syndrome [CFS]. The aims of this study were to:

1. Investigate the pain experiences of people with CFS with a range of disability, and

2. Identify specific pain characteristics of people with CFS.

Methods: Fifty people were recruited, including 10 people who were severely disabled by CFS [25% Group]. Participants completed a structured interview and a series of pain assessments about their current pain, which included the McGill Pain Questionnaire [MPQ], the Pain Anxiety Symptoms Scale [PASS], and visual analog scales.


• Muscle pain was the most reported painful symptom [68%].

• The current pain intensity was 43.2 mm ± 20.8 mm measured on a visual analog scale. The MPQ pain rating index was 23.6 ± 10.8. The PASS total score was 37.9 ± 17.6.

• Thirty percent [N = 15] of participants reported the cervical spine the location of “most severe” pain, followed by the left and right scapular [shoulder blades] and right lumbar spine [N = 10 each, 20% each].

• Further analysis indicated that those people who were severely disabled by CFS also experienced significantly more pain [P<0.05]. Conclusion:

• The results of this study provide objective data to support anecdotal and clinical reports of pain in people with CFS.

• Pain in people with CFS should be accepted and treated as seriously as other conditions where pain is a significant symptom.

• Management strategies need to be tailored to the individual requirements of patients presenting with symptoms of both fatigue and pain.

This study was jointly funded by Glasgow Caledonian University and ME Research UK

Source: Journal of Musculoskeletal Pain, June 2010;18(2): 127-137. DOI 10.3109/10582452.2010.483966, by  Marshall R, Paul L, McFadyen AK, Rafferty D, Wood L. Division of Nursing & Health Care, Faculty of Medicine, Glasgow University; School of Biological and Biomedical Sciences, Glasgow Caledonian University, Glasgow, UK.

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