Afflicted patients suffer from very low quality of life because of their aidless situation with a plethora of neurological symptoms, widespread pain, brain fog and severe fatigue exacerbated by even slight effort. There is no consensus on either causality or treatment for the disorder, and the prognosis is poor.
It is estimated that more than 40 000 people in Sweden are suffering from ME/CFS, a number that may rise substantially in the future. Viral epidemics are well-known triggers for the onset of ME/CFS and the current COVID situation will most likely make the disease even more common. The connection between infections and onset of the disease has led researchers to search for a unifying pathogenic explanation. Despite decades of research the search has been inconclusive, and the underlying mechanisms remain unclear.
A potential explanation behind the disease was recently proposed by a research team at the Karolinska Institute/Bragee Clinics (Stockholm). Clinical data from the Bragee ME-center indicated that hypermobility and strictures in the cervical spine were common in patients, of which the latter could be a sign of previous neck injury. To study this further, physicians at the clinic recruited 229 patients who were newly diagnosed with ME/CFS and consecutively invited to participate. The results were striking. Every second patient were hypermobile, and radiological examinations (MR) revealed that 80% had obstructions in the cervical spine and 83% displayed signs of elevated intracranial pressure. These numbers are far higher than what could be expected in the normal population and indicate that such abnormalities may be important in disease genesis, at least in some cases of ME/CFS.
Source: Karolinska Institutet