Story by ME Research UK.
We already know that many ME/CFS patients have difficulties standing (orthostasis), particularly standing still (see Standing up for ME). In fact, symptoms of ‘orthostatic intolerance’ can often be found in these patients during clinical assessment (read more) , and there is also evidence that they can have problems walking; for example, one ME Research UK-funded investigation found that the physiological cost of walking was significantly greater for ME/CFS patients than for healthy people, though the reasons for these higher energy demands remain unknown.
Recently, researchers at Antwerp University Hospital have been taking a more in-depth look at the physical capabilities of people with ME/CFS. In one study, they examined upper limb muscle recovery – a feature that had never been subjected to research in ME/CFS, despite the fact that these muscles are most frequently used for everyday activities, such as combing and washing hair, ironing and cooking (read more). After an upper limb exercise challenge, muscle recovery was significantly slower in ME/CFS patients. In another study, they showed that ‘timed-loaded standing’ with a dumbbell (intended to simulate the performance of the torso during everyday activities) was much shorter in women with ME/CFS than in women with osteoporosis or healthy women, revealing a lack of endurance in the muscles of the trunk and arm.
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