ME Association responds to Guardian letter re: Graded Exercise Therapy

The ME Association response was published here in the Guardian Sun 14 March 2021. We have reproduced it below:

Dr Alastair Miller, Professor Paul Garner and Professor Peter White are not correct when they state that graded exercise therapy (GET) is a safe and effective treatment for ME/chronic fatigue syndrome (Letters, 11 March).

Having reviewed all the published evidence from clinical trials, the new Nice guideline no longer recommends GET as an effective treatment for ME/CFS.

Patient evidence submitted to Nice, and analysed by Oxford Brookes University, also concluded that GET caused symptoms to worsen in the vast majority of people who had tried it. The new Nice guideline on ME/CFS therefore recommends that people should remain within their energy limitations and not be prescribed GET.

The way in which activity-induced fatigue is described in long Covid is no different from that found in ME/CFS. This is hardly surprising as they are both debilitating post-viral conditions.

Many people with long Covid are relapsing when they increase physical activity levels too quickly and fail to balance rest with activity. In our current state of knowledge there are therefore very good reasons why people with both long Covid and ME/CFS should avoid any activity programme that involves incremental increases in exercise – such as GET.

What they require is a period of good old-fashioned convalescence at the start of their illness. This should be followed by gradual, flexible and cautious increases in physical and mental activity.

Dr Charles Shepherd
Honorary medical adviser, ME Association

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