Myalgic Encephalomyelitis or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS) is something of a family "tradition". Besides myself, both my mother and sister are also long-term survivors of this devastating illness.
We have all tried countless treatments and therapies over the years, some have helped, most have not. Both my mother and sister however have been treated using The Perrin Technique and seen positive results. My mother tries to see her specially trained osteopath regularly for the treatment or she sees a noticeable downturn in her condition. My sister got married in the summer of 2009 and says regular Perrin Technique treatments leading up to the big day definitely helped her get through it.
So, I am now trying this unique therapy for myself. I have had two appointments with the same practitioner my family use, the first was purely history taking followed by a physical examination which the practitioner used to confirm the diagnosis of ME/CFS. The second appointment was my first treatment session which lasted approximately 30 minutes. Before I give you my impressions of the treatment and what I experienced afterwards I'd first like to explain a bit about the the theory of The Perrin Technique.
Dr. Raymond Perrin, DO, PhD, developed The Perrin Technique after working with ME/CFS patients as an osteopath over a number of years. He came to develop the hypothesis that an important component of ME/CFS involves a disturbance of lymphatic drainage of the brain and muscles - leaving patients "toxic" and suffering from the characteristic array of symptoms as a result. Dr. Perrin suggests that various stressors like physical trauma, allergies, emotional stress and infections can lead to an overactivation of the sympathetic nervous system (SNS). It is thought the likely cause of this is a build up of toxins in the fluid around the brain and spinal cord as a result of infection and/or inflammation. Some of these poisons in the head or spine flow through perforations in a bony plate (the cribriform plate) located just above the nasal sinuses into the lymph ducts of the face and neck. According to Dr. Perrin, in a healthy individual the toxins also drain down the spinal cord and out into the lymph ducts lying along the spine but in those with ME/CFS these normal drainage points are congested.
According to Dr. Perrin's clinical observations and research there are characteristic physical signs common to all ME/CFS patients which differ to those seen in healthy individuals or other illnesses. During my first session my osteopath applied pressure in various ways and in various locations around my nasal sinuses and asked me about the level of discomfort I felt each time. I was then asked to remove my shirt and lay on my back on an examination table while he examined my head, neck and chest. He told me that it is possible to feel a rhythm (similar to a pulse) in the flow of lymph and that in ME/CFS patients this is slower than normal or erratic, or both. He reported that I definitely showed a typical ME/CFS pattern but not the most pronounced he had seen. He explained that because I had been ill for so long (20 years) the body finds a sort of equilibrium and that often newly diagnosed patients are those who are most "abnormal" upon examination.
What The Perrin Technique Involves and How It Works
The Perrin Clinic website provides an excellent summary of how ME/CFS is treated using the Perrin Technique and how it works so I will simply provide a snippet here:
The sympathetic nervous system spreads throughout the entire body affecting every type of tissue, but more importantly receiving messages from all the tissues e.g. skin, muscle, blood vessel, gland, lymph vessel etc. The latter forms an important network of small channels carrying lymph, which is a transparent bodily fluid collected from all tissues and eventually returned to the blood. The lymphatic system is basically a secondary waste disposal unit within the body which flushes out the waste products of the cells and foreign bodies that are toxic to us. The fluid motility in the lymph is helped by pressure from the blood flow in the surrounding blood vessels, and so the lymphatic tissue will be engorged with fluid if the blood circulation is not working properly.
The sympathetic nerves also have been found to control a pump mechanism within the main drainage of the lymphatic system which becomes disturbed in CFS/ME. The resultant backflow further engorges the lymphatic vessels, especially in the chest and neck.
The Perrin Technique™ is an osteopathic approach that manually stimulates the fluid motion around the brain and spinal cord. Manipulation of the spine further aids drainage of these toxins out of the cerebrospinal fluid. Massage of the soft tissues in the head, neck, back and chest direct all the toxins out of the lymphatic system and into the blood, where they are eventually detoxified in the liver.
Eventually with no poisons affecting the brain, the sympathetic nervous system begins to function correctly, and providing the patients do not overstrain themselves their symptoms should gradually improve and in time some patients become totally symptom free.
My First Treatment Session
I was asked to strip to the waist once again and lay on my right side on the treatment table and asked to relax while my osteopath positioned my legs correctly and then began manipulating and massaging my lower back and gradually worked up my spine. This lasted maybe 5-10 minutes and then I was asked to turn onto my other side while he repeated the process. Finally I was asked to lay on my back while he gently manipulated my head and neck. The whole process was certainly not unpleasant and actually rather relaxing.
My osteopath then instructed me on a technique to use at home for a few minutes every day involving the application of pressure above the nasal sinuses to help facilitate lymphatic drainage.
I had been warned by my osteopath that the treatment by its very nature enhances lymphatic drainage into the bloodstream with the unavoidable result being an increase in the level of circulating toxins. He said I should expect to feel more unwell than usual for the next few days - and was he right! Very quickly I began to feel a little nauseous and flu-like and ultimately after having the treatment at 11:30am I was in bed by 4pm and slept right the way through until 11am the next morning, except for waking once around 10pm when I got myself a drink. Going to bed and being able to sleep so early is very unusual for me, I am usually late to bed and late getting up. The next day I continued to feel queezy and weak so remained in bed for much of the day. It was only the day after that when I began to feel more like my usual self. Unpleasant as this all was (and it was!), I take it as a sign that the treatment worked as intended and hope after a series of weekly treatments this effect will become less severe and I will begin to see some improvements in my general condition.
The theory behind The Perrin Technique seems logically very sound to me based on other ME/CFS ressearch and my own 20 years of experience with the illness. The fact that Dr. Perrin has carried out research at the University of Salford in conjunction with the University of Manchester and is now conducting a study with the involvement of the National Health Service (NHS) in the UK adds a great deal of credibility and certainly makes me inclined to see through a full series of treatments...despite the unpleasant post-treatment experience!
I will post future blogs with updates on my progress. To learn more about The Perrin Technique please visit The Perrin Clinic website at www.theperrinclinic.com