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Treatment and management

Treatment and management

While there is currently no pharmaceutical cure for M.E. there are a number of conventional medical approaches and complementary therapies which may help to alleviate symptoms.

Because of the complexity of the illness, its fluctuating nature and the wide spectrum of symptoms, different things work for different people. Some, particularly those who are more severely affected, unfortunately find currently available therapies of little benefit.

The NICE guideline for M.E. and  Scottish Good Practice Statement on M.E./CFS offer guidance on:

  • symptom management, including pharmacological interventions
  • function and quality-of-life management, including sleep, rest, pacing and diet
  • referral to specialist care, including management and activity programmes.

Both stress that the following should not be offered to people with M.E.:

  • advice to undertake unsupervised or unstructured vigorous exercise (such as “going to the gym” or “exercising more”) because this may worsen symptoms
  • specialist management programmes delivered by practitioners with no experience in the condition
  • an imposed rigid schedule of activity and rest.

Surveys by Action for M.E. and other M.E. charities have consistently shown that the majority of people with M.E. find that pacing (ie. managing physical, mental and emotional activity and rest) helps them to manage their illness.

Action for M.E. webinars 2017

Our Webinar for GPs on Thursday 4 May at 8pm will focus on M.E., postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS) and autonomic dysfunction. Open to any health professional working in primary care, it’s led by our medical advisor Prof Julia Newton, Clinical Professor of Ageing and Medicine, University of Newcastle; and Dr Lesley Kavi, a GP with a special interest in POTS. 

Details of webinars to be held later in the year will be posted here as soon as they become available.

BACME guide

The British Association for CFS/M.E. (BACME) publishes a therapy and symptom management guide. This practical clinical treatment summary incorporates existing tools and methodologies from specialists who work with adults and children who have M.E. 

It offers a consensus approach to broader treatment based on clinician expertise, patient experience and the best available evidence, and is free to download from BACME's website.

Map of medicine

M.E. is one of the topics included in the Map of Medicine, a web-based tool that provides 350 evidence-based, best-practice clinical pathways as an interactive flowchart of detailed processes. These pathways can be localised to help plan, communicate and implement local services and priorities.