Do you or someone you know suffer from Chronic fatigue syndrome and want to gain your life back? In this week's blog, we will be discussing different ways for them to do so.
Chronic fatigue syndrome an be characterized as severe fatigue lasting longer than six months, as well as presence of at least four of the following physical symptoms: postexertional malaise; unrefreshing sleep; impaired memory or concentration; muscle pain; polyarthralgia; sore throat; tender lymph nodes; or new headaches.
While there are multiple symptoms associated with chronic fatigue syndrome, the underlying commonality is severe fatigue, poor sleep patterns, sleeping but not waking up rested, etc.
Why is sleep so important anyways? Simply put, sleep is our body’s opportunity to heal and recharge. During sleep, energy stores get refilled, damaged cells get repaired or recycled, toxins get flushed out and the body stores memories and lessons from the day’s experiences.
When we don’t sleep, the body doesn’t have the opportunity to regenerate and heal, toxins don’t get flushed from the brain, the immune system suffers... no wonder so many people with chronic fatigue struggle with the other symptoms related to immune and mental function.
What regulates our body’s sleep?
Ultimately, like so many other functions in the body, it is the responsibility of the nervous system to regulate our sleep/wake cycles. Many know this process as circadian rhythm. The body uses cues from its environment to know when it should be awake or resting, such as sunlight, when we intake food, etc.
Through the hypothalamus, the nervous system begins a cascade of neurotransmitters and hormones that intimately maintain balance in the body. The body can either be in a stress response, or a rest/digest/heal response. It cannot do both at the same time, and it depends on the adaptability of the body and nervous system to determine how well and to what extent the body is capable of making this transition.
One way to measure this transition is heart rate variability (HRV) which we utilize in our office. This is the gold standard for measuring autonomic function. It gives us a readying of exactly how adaptable a person’s body is and how well it makes the transition from stress to rest.
What is chiropractics’ role in chronic fatigue?
At its essence, chiropractic is all about improving the way the body not only responds to stress but also how it heals itself. Chiropractors analyze the spine to detect locations of compromised neurologic function. Impaired nervous system signaling directly affects the function of all tissues, organs, and glands associated with that specific neurologic distribution. If this neurologic interference is in an area related to the rest/digest/heal centers of the nervous system, than restful sleep, digestion and absorption, immune function may all bee interfered with. These areas would be where the head meets the neck (upper cervical/ brain stem) or the low pelvis area (sacral).
Often when we are able to correct spinal misalignments contributing to neurologic interference (subluxation) in these areas, improved restful sleep is one of the first things our practice members experience. Many who receive an upper cervical specific adjustment are yawning before they get up from the table, and fast asleep when we check on them during the rest period after their adjustment.
HRV is one objective tool we use to measure the effect of chiropractic adjustments on the body. Research has shown significant improvement of HRV in people under chiropractic care, showing increased adaptability, a better response to stress, and a more effective transition into a resting state.
When the body is able to sleep better, it can pretty much do everything else better as well. The ability to rest and recover is becoming increasingly difficult in the high-stimulus high-stress modern world we live in. While chiropractic does not claim to treat chronic fatigue or any other condition, it is great at removing barriers to the body’s normal function and releasing the body’s innate ability to heal itself.
There are of course other supportive interventions to help those suffering from chronic fatigue, such as nutrition, detoxification, addressing possible underlying infections, etc. but neurologically based chiropractic is what we know and do best.
If you have any questions, concerns, or would like to further the conversation, please don’t hesitate to reach out.