From ME Research (UK)
Myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME) is characterised by a range of neurological symptoms and signs, muscle pain with intense physical or mental exhaustion, relapses, and specific cognitive disabilities. Early reports dating from 1934 described epidemics of the illness – such as the 1955 outbreak at the Royal Free Hospital in London – but nowadays it is more common for endemic (sporadic) cases to be identified. The World Health Organisation’s International Classification of Disease lists ME as a disorder of the nervous system, under Post-Viral Fatigue Syndrome (Block 93.3, ICD 10th revision, 2007).
The cardinal symptoms of ME, as described in some of the early literature (see historical aspects and classic papers), are profound, generalised post-exertional loss of muscle power (fatigability); muscle pain that may include tenderness and swelling; and neurological signs. Patients are also prone to relapses which may take the form of recurrences of the original systemic illness, or fresh episodes of muscle weakness, neurologic changes or well-defined cognitive problems. As with many chronic illnesses, fatigue may be present, but in ME patients the fatigue is reported to be post-exertional, often delayed, and quite unlike the ‘fatigue’ experienced by healthy people.
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