An imaging study by Stanford University School of Medicine investigators has found distinct differences between the brains of patients with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) and those of healthy people. The findings could lead to more definitive diagnoses of the syndrome and may also point to an underlying mechanism in the disease process. Of additional significance, the identified abnormalities may boost the perceived legitimacy of CFS as well as some chronic pain conditions, such as fibromyalgia, that are often the target of clinical suspicion and social mischaracterization.
Conditions such as CFS that are difficult to diagnose and objectively explain have historically presented their sufferers with both a physical and a social affliction. Sociologists have identified a spectrum of benefits that people with conveniently diagnosable illnesses are more likely to enjoy relative to those with more contested conditions. The new findings, reported in the October 29 edition of Radiology, exemplify the benefit that verifiable evidence may bring to perceived legitimacy of these conditions.
A news report from Stanford University on the research may be read here.
Additional commentary on the significance of the findings may be found here.