LOS ANGELES, Wednesday, July 21, 2016 – A study published in PLOS ONE[1] earlier this week conducted by researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine found that symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) “can be provoked by imposing a mild to moderate strain to the muscles and nerves.”[2]

Study participants (comprised of 60 CFS patients and 20 healthy controls) were randomly assigned to groups performing one of two types of leg raise: a passive, supine straight leg raise (meaning individuals raised and held up their legs while laying on their backs) or a sham leg raise that did not, in fact, cause strain. During the study, CFS patients experiencing true strain “reported significantly increased body pain and concentration difficulties during the procedure” as compared to their sham leg raise counterparts.[2] Twenty-four hours later, “these same individuals who underwent the true strain also reported greater symptom intensity for lightheadedness and the overall combined score for symptoms.”[2]

Peter Rowe, M.D., lead author and director of Johns Hopkins Children’s Center Chronic Fatigue Clinic, told Solve ME/CFS Initiative (SMCI) President Carol Head, “We are grateful for the support of the organization in conducting this work. We are preparing an NIH application to continue the efforts…Thanks again for helping us get to this point.”

It is hoped that further studies in this vein will be conducted in order to better understand the prevalence, risk factors, and impact of muscle and nerve strain in CFS as well as how to best return more normal function to those suffering from the illness.

To read the PLOS study in its entirety, visit

About the Solve ME/CFS Initiative (SMCI)

The Solve ME/CFS Initiative (SMCI) was founded in 1987 and has established itself as the leading non-profit organization dedicated to ME/CFS. The organization’s mission is to make ME/CFS widely understood, diagnosable, and treatable by stimulating and conducting research aimed at the early detection, objective diagnosis, and effective treatment of ME/CFS. SMCI is the first and only ME/CFS organization to earn the highest possible distinction (a 4-star rating) from Charity Navigator, America’s largest independent charity evaluator.

[1] Rowe PC, Fontaine KR, Lauver M, Jasion SE, Marden CL, Moni M, et al. (2016) Neuromuscular Strain Increases Symptom Intensity in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. PLoS ONE 11(7): e0159386. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0159386