Neurological Disease

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This leaflet summarises all the key clinical, research and political evidence supporting a neurological classification for myalgic encephalopathy/encephalomyelitis (M.E.). The ME Association position is that myalgic encephalopathy – meaning problems with muscles (myalgia) and with brain function (encephalopathy) is the most suitable name for the disease at this time.

There has been much debate about the cause and classification of ME/CFS in the last decades. The World Health Organisation classify Post Viral Fatigue Syndrome as a disease of the nervous system (i.e., neurological) and ME/CFS is linked to that classification. It is similarly recognised by the NHS SNOMED classification system which has adopted the WHO definitions.

But debate continues around what causes PVFS and ME/CFS and what perpetuates the symptoms, and until such time as research is able to find acceptable evidence to support the involvement of the nervous system in causation, the debate is unlikely to be resolved anytime soon and neurology as a discipline is unlikely to accept ME/CFS as being primarily a neurological disease.

The ME Association position is that myalgic encephalopathy – meaning problems with muscles (myalgia) and with brain function (encephalopathy) is the most suitable name for the disease at this time. We believe that it should not be dismissed by neurology, and that neurologists have a key role to play in diagnosis and management, but we also believe that the cause of symptoms may stem from other systems in the body.

Topics discussed in this leaflet include: What do we mean by neurological? The WHO ICD classification, The UK Government's position, Clinical evidence of neurological dysfunction, Research evidence of neurological abnormalities, Why do some doctors believe M.E. is not a neurological disease? The NHS and the NICE clinical guideline.

Telephone Helpline

The ME Association telephone helpline – ME Connect – is available every day of the year, during the hours of 10am-12noon, 2pm-4pm and 7pm-9pm. Please phone: 0344 576 5326 if you have any questions or would simply like to talk to someone who is there to listen.

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