Previous Research

Summary of Previous Research Funded by FORME

Phase 1 of the research trial

Phase 1 included self-report questionnaires to examine overall symptom change. With post-exercise fatigue being a major symptom of CFS/ME, the treatment protocol was best evaluated by determining its effects on muscle function which was analysed utilising isometric testing of the knee extensor muscles measuring the impulse torque.

Phase 2 of the research trial

Phase 2 included the same self-report questionnaires assessing symptom relief as in the initial trial, was divided into two parallel phases. Phase 2 primarily took the form of brain analysis using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to confirm if brain abnormalities seen in previous research were found in sufferers of CFS/ME. Central lymph scans were also carried out showing a possible trend of enlargement in CFS/ME sufferers.

Phase 3 of the research trial

Isometric tests were repeated with more accurate equipment than in phase 1.

The objectives of the research were:

  1. To determine whether spinal problems were related to the symptoms arising from CFS/ME.
  2. To test if osteopathic treatment reduced symptoms associated with CFS/ME compared with those of a matched control group, who received no such treatment.
  3. To reveal the sustainability of any improvement by a year follow up study and to investigate the likely repeatability of the initial study thus strengthening the argument of a relationship between the set osteopathic procedure and the improvement in symptoms associated with CFS/ME.
  4. To determine if there is a visible disease process in the brain that may be causing the symptoms of CFS/ME.
  5. To determine if there is any intrinsic muscle disorder that may be causing the symptom of fatigue in CFS/ME.

Conclusions of the Research

The first stage of the research showed an average of 40% improvement in the major symptoms associated with CFS/ME in the treated group compared with an average worsening of 1% in the non- treated group.    Muscle fatigue was also shown to be significantly reduced in the treated group compared with little change in the untreated patients.

In the second stage of the trials it was concluded that muscle fatigue is of a functional nature rather than any recognisable untreatable muscle disease. Secondly, following brain scanning with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) examining the brain tissue, the blood flow and cerebrospinal fluid flow, it was discovered that in the CFS/ME patients there was no detectable pathological structural abnormality in the brain. This contradicts other studies that have shown brain anomalies. The conundrum may be explained by the fact that there may be severe cases of CFS/ME where the brain structure is damaged. However it was shown that even though a person might have CFS/ME it does not mean that there will be any damage detectable on scans. The fact that no major physical abnormality was seen in any of the CFS/ME patients suggests that structural insult of the brain is uncommon rather than the norm.

For more detailed research results please see Research Results