Understanding Chronic Fatigue

What is Chronic Fatigue?

Chances are that you have at some point or another experienced fatigue: that listless, lifeless feeling of way-beyond-tired, seeping down to your very core.  We have almost all felt fatigue at some point in our lives.

But what is chronic fatigue?  Chronic fatigue is, at its most simple explanation, the inability to feel rested no matter how much rest or sleep one gets. The syndrome named for it – Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) – is a perplexing disorder. This is because it is characterized by extreme fatigue that cannot be directly explained by any single underlying medical condition.

There are many theories about what causes CFS, and to add to its complexity, it is widely held that CFS can sometimes be caused by a combination of multiple contributors. While a direct cause (or causes) may yet be unknown, theories range from viral infections, to psychological stress.

What is known is that the following factors may increase your risk of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome:

  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome can occur at any age, but it most commonly affects people in their 40s and 50s.
  • Women are diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome much more often than men. This may be because women are more predisposed to CFS, or may simply be because women are possibly more likely to report their fatigue symptoms to their doctor.
  • Difficulty managing stress may contribute to the development of chronic fatigue syndrome.

Signs and symptoms of CFS may include:

  • Weakness
  • Loss of memory or concentration
  • Enlarged lymph nodes in your neck or armpits
  • Unexplained muscle or joint pain
  • Headaches
  • Un-refreshing sleep – waking and still feeling tired
  • Extreme exhaustion lasting more than 24 hours after physical or mental exercise

Possible complications of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome include depression and social isolation.

If you believe you might be suffering from CFS, do not be afraid to speak up and tell your doctor! While there’s currently no single test to confirm a diagnosis of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, your doctor may recommend series of medical tests, or in effect a process of elimination approach, in order to rule out other health problems that have similar symptoms, and thereby be able to accurately diagnose your syndrome.

Meanwhile, if you’re dealing with symptoms of CFS, or fatigue at any level, there are things you can do.

One easy way to add a little boost to your system throughout the day is with a short series of deep breathing exercises.  Shallow breathing prevents our bodies from getting enough oxygen, and this can lead to (or add to) feelings of tiredness.  By taking moments throughout your day to check in with yourself and practice deep breathing, you can re-energize yourself. Do them anywhere – at your desk, in the car or on the bus, or anywhere you normally breathe (!). See? Easy!

Simply place your hands either gently folded at your center chest, or, with one hand to chest and the other to your abdomen, and focus on breathing in deeply and slowly through your nose and back out again, through your mouth. Repeat this for a few breaths at a time. Here’s a video of our lovely Caitlin, illustrating this technique.


Another way you can combat your symptoms of fatigue?  Massage! (I bet you guessed we would say that). Here’s how massage can help:

Massages help with circulation. Circulation naturally detoxifies your muscles. Detoxification causes rejuvenation! By using warming oil such as ginger or cinnamon, your therapist is increasing the circulation deep into the layers of your muscles and reviving you and rejuvenating you from the inside out.

Additionally, your body’s involuntary response to massage technique and touch is to respond by relaxing, which can ultimately help you to feel more rested.

Also, massages stimulate endorphins and serotonin, both of which can improve mood and energy.

If you’re feeling fatigue, or are a sufferer of chronic fatigue, we are happy to help! Schedule a massage with any of our wonderful therapists, or, consider how a steady practice of massage may be beneficial to you. Our Monthly Membership Rewards program offers incentives and benefits to help make it easy for regular massage therapy to be a part of your life.  We are happy to help you take care of you!