Pacing as a strategy to improve energy management in myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome: a consensus document:
Posted online on December 19, 2011. (doi:10.3109/09638288.2011.635746)
Ellen M. Goudsmit1, Jo Nijs2,3,4, Leonard A. Jason5, Karen E. Wallman6
1School of Psychology, University of East London,
Stratford, London, E15 4LZ, UK
2Department of Human Physiology, Faculty of Physical Education & Physiotherapy, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium
3Division of Musculoskeletal Physiotherapy, Department of Health Care, Artesis University College Antwerp, Belgium
4Department of Rehabilitation and Physiotherapy, University Hospital Brussels, Belgium
5Center for Community Research, DePaul University,
6School of Sport Science, Exercise and Health, The University of Western Australia
Purpose: Myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) is a debilitating condition characterized by a number of symptoms which typically worsen following minimal exertion. Various strategies to manage the limited energy levels have been proposed. Of these, pacing has been consistently rated as one of the most helpful in surveys conducted by patient groups. This review is a response to the paucity of the information on pacing in the scientific literature. Method: We describe the principle of pacing and how this can be adapted to meet individual abilities and preferences. A critical evaluation of the research was conducted to ascertain the benefits and limitations of this strategy. Results: Based on various studies, it is proposed that pacing can help to stabilize the condition and avoid post-exertional malaise. Conclusion: Pacing offers practitioners an additional therapeutic option which is acceptable to the majority of patients and can reduce the severity of the exertion-related symptoms of ME/CFS.
Implications for Rehabilitation
- Pacing is a strategy which helps patients with ME/CFS limit exertion-related increases in symptomatology.
- Pacing is appropriate for those who operating near or at their maximum level of functioning, and for individuals with neurological and immunological abnormalities.
- Pacing may be offered as part of an individualized, multi-component management programme.
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