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Action for ME is a UK charity which helps support and helps make a difference to people suffering from M.E.

What is ME ? – ‘Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (M.E.) is a long-term (chronic), fluctuating, neurological condition that causes symptoms affecting many body systems, more commonly the nervous and immune systems. M.E. affects an estimated 250,000 people in the UK, and around 17 million people worldwide.

People with M.E. experience severe, persistent fatigue associated with post-exertional malaise, the body’s inability to recover after expending even small amounts of energy, leading to a flare-up in symptoms.

Not everyone will experience the exact same symptoms so it’s important not to compare someone who has M.E. to another person who has the illness. People with M.E. can vary enormously in their experience of the illness, and also how long their symptoms last. Some make good progress and may recover, while others can remain ill for a number of years and may not get better. Some people find that they don’t go back completely to the way they felt before they became ill, but they do recover sufficiently to lead happy and fulfilling lives. This is similar to many other chronic illnesses.’

Fibromyalgia sufferers understand what it’s like to suffer from chronic fatigue but M.E sufferers experience this in a much bigger way, a way which most people could not comprehend.  Several descriptions of illness resembling those of M.E and chronic fatigue syndrome have been reported for at least two hundred years but they say that ‘a lack of understanding and awareness about M.E. means patients can experience disbelief, and even discrimination, from friends, family, health and social care professionals and employers.’ Sounds familiar?

Fibromyalgia, CFS, and M.E all seem to have a similar pattern of not being accepted as a genuine condition or people suffering without a diagnosis. The only way to raise awareness of these conditions if for sufferers and carers to highlight the plight they are in. Action for M.E is just one of those charities trying to raise awareness of the condition. They take action to end the ignorance, injustice, and neglect faced by people with M.E. They do that by helping to improve the lives of people with M.E.  while taking action to secure change for the future. Read more about this in their 2016-2021 strategy.

Their mission is empowering people with M.E. to fulfill their potential and secure the care and support they need while working towards a greater understanding of the illness and ultimately a cure.

You can listen to a recent interview on March 16th on BBC Radio Bristol where their CEO Sonya Chowdhury spoke with presenter John Darvall about young people with M.E.

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You can donate ‘Give Big for Me‘ to help fund vital information and support services for people suffering from M.E.





Pain management consultants have been recommending anti-depressant pills to cure intractable pain for quite a while now.

It was discovered 30 years ago that a side-effect of tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) was to block the pain pathway to the brain. However, many GPs remain unaware of this or are reluctant to use them because of their association with mental ill-health.

Yet specialists who treat back pain say TCAs such as amitriptyline and nortriptyline are excellent when conventional pain-killing drugs fail to work. TCAs seem to increase the brain chemicals serotonin and noradrenaline, which in effect raises the pain threshold, so most pain is not felt.

To work as an anti-depressant, the drugs need to be taken in doses of as much as 150mg a day. For pain relief, they are prescribed normally at no more than 25mg. Experts say that at low doses and taken for up to six months, anti-depressants are non-addictive and side effects are rare, though some people may experience drowsiness or a dry mouth.

I have been on amitriptyline for a number of years now and have played around with different doses to get the best effect but anything over 30mg does cause a very dry mouth. It was so bad with me sometimes that I could not get my words out properly but it definitely helps you to sleep. I recently saw Roger Knaggs who was appointed Associate Professor in Clinical Pharmacy Practice at the University of Nottingham in September 2011 to provide a highly specialist pharmacy service to the Pain Management Service at NUH.

My pain consultant had made me an appointment to talk about the medication I am on. I found out more tips in that appointment than I have known for years. One of which I put into practice straight away. For years I have been taking my amitriptyline just before I go to bed and if I wake up at night and cannot go to sleep then I take another. This was, in fact, the wrong thing to do as the effect would then last well into the morning. He suggested I take it around 8.30pm and if I wake up in pain to take a Tramadol rather than the amitriptyline.

He decided that because I have been on the amitriptyline for so many years that maybe it was time to change it for nortriptyline.

According to a leaflet written by the Isle of Wight NHS – Amitriptyline and Nortriptyline are medicines used to treat depression and relieve chronic pain.

They are often helpful for nerve related pain, for high pain sensitivity (also called central sensitisation) and if the pain is leading to sleep disruption. Their effect is different from standard painkillers, so are often prescribed in combination. As they affect the central nervous system in complex ways, the effect often takes a while to be felt and requires regular intake. Amitriptyline and Nortriptyline won’t help your pain if taken as needed. We recommend a trial of at least four weeks to judge the pain relief effect. If good, it
may be taken on a regular long-term basis; if there is no distinct relief they should be discontinued after the trial period.

So, in a nutshell, they both work for pain it is just acase of finding which one suits you the best.







World Sleep Day is an annual event, intended to be a celebration of sleep and a call to action on important issues related to sleep, including medicine, education, social aspects and driving. It is organized by the World Sleep Day Committee of World Sleep Society (founded by WASM and WSF) and aims to lessen the burden of sleep problems on society through better prevention and management of sleep disorders. World Sleep Day is held the Friday before Spring Vernal Equinox of each year.

The holiday aims to emphasize the importance of sleep and raise awareness about sleep disorders through fun events around the globe.

According to WikiHow the best way to enjoy World Sleep Day is to –

  1. Choose if you want to sleep alone, with someone else, or with something else.Get your pet to cuddle with you while you take a nap; if the pet escapes, you can always substitute them for a stuffed animal.
  2. Determine how long you wish to “celebrate”. Is this going to be a power nap because you have work for the day, a cat nap for a few hours, or quality time with your pillow for the entire day? Don’t tell yourself that you need to wake up and do something productive instead of sleeping. If you can’t sleep, just stay in bed all day!
  3. Dress appropriately. The more comfortable you are, the better sleep you’ll have. Be sure to count each layer of blanket material as one layer in general
  4. Sprawl out on a bed, sofa, hammock, or any comfortable setting. This is a day to be lazy, so however you position yourself is up to you. You can have your feet propped up on the sofa’s arm rest instead of squishing yourself on the cushions, have a foot planted on the ground if you are in a hammock so you can rock back and forth while going to sleep.
  5. See if the sleep that you got for the day made a difference. Ask yourself if you feel more refreshed than before today. Sleep is healthy for people, as it lowers stress and refreshes the body for the next day.

It could also be a time to change your mattress so why not take advantage of the discount on N:Rem mattress’s by simply adding this code ‘BACKPAINBLOG’ at check out to get £30 off your order.



Health Unlocked is the social network for health. By finding others with similar health backgrounds people can take on day to day health concerns together. And because their communities are set up by leading health organisations people have access to credible support.

They believe good health information is good for your health. HealthUnlocked has been built to get good support to the people who need it.

How Health Unlocked works is by having a support network of patients, caregivers and health advocates who connect safely online with guidance from credible organizations and institutions. They talk about their experiences of conditions, symptoms, treatments, and health services. These are catalogued in an intelligent database which signposts relevant content to people based on their profile. 2.5 million experiences have been shared and many more are created every day.

They say that ‘Almost 7 in 10 patients on HealthUnlocked had never spoken to another patient with the same condition before coming to our platform. 91% say using it has been useful or lifechanging. 87% feel more confident when speaking to professionals.’

They have over 650,000 members and more than 4.5 million users coming to the platform each month.

Simply join Health Unlocked for FREE, then develop a profile which includes your medical health conditions and interests then find people/companies to follow. You can then add your blog posts, join communities, or search for anything health related on their site.


My love of essential oils goes back about 20+ years. The hospital where I had my first spinal surgeries had a lady that came into the hospital on a weekly basis and gave patients aromatherapy massage if they wished to have it.

She was a quiet small lady whose aura gave a feeling of calm before she even gave you the aromatherapy massage. She would mix the oils at the time you arrived by first finding out what sort of pain you were in. If I go somewhere that sells or uses these oils it takes me straight back to my regular session with my aromatherapist.

Unfortunately, like all of us, she eventually retired and although I still have the odd aromatherapy massage I have yet to have a treatment that reacted in quite the same way.

Sometimes I will use an aromatherapy diffuser scent ring, to fill the room with my favourite oils. Lavender (which also reminds me of my Grandma as she always wore it) mixed with rosemary oil is top of my list.

When I first went to my NHS Pain Clinic some years ago they offered amongst other alternative therapies massage treatment. I was keen to get booked into this in the hope it would be as good as my aromatherapist treatment. The massage was good but without the oils it just didn’t have the same effect on me. I would previously come home feeling completely relaxed and would sleep so well on the day of my treatment.

I buy my oils from Nature’s Best as they have such good quality oils and still use their breathe easy blend if anyone in the house is suffering from cold or flu-like symptoms. Their breathe easy blend is made up of eucalyptus, camphor and peppermint which is a natural aid to breathe clearly. Amazon also has a number of companies selling oils on their site.

Did you know that you can even use oils for general household freshening? You can add a few drops of oil to your waste bin, to help mask nasty odours. You can add a few drops onto the inside of your toilet roll core then every time it is turned the aroma is released. You can also add a few drops to a cotton wool ball and place in your vacuum bag, and of course lavender acts as a natural repellent against insects. Our wardrobe is always full of little lace bags filled with fresh lavender to keep the moths away.

Just reading what Lavender Oils contains is enough to promote me to buy some –

  • Steam distilled from Lavandula angustifola flowers
  • Relaxing and calming properties
  • Ideal for skin care and restful sleep preparations
  • Topical treatment for insect bites

Lavender essential oil has a slightly deep note and an herbaceous tone, yet rich, mellow and fruity.

We harvest 30 to 50 kg per hectare of these prized flowers at the optimum time in their life-cycle, and in the most suitable climate to maximise potency. It takes 150 pounds of flowers to produce just one pound of oil. Once collected the flowers are steam distilled to extract the Lavandula angustifola oil.

Since ancient times, Lavender (Lavandula angustifola) has been one of the most popular and widely used scents, with its name derived from the Latin lavare, to wash. The essential oils from this plant are known to have a soothing and calming effect, and is often used to relieve many ailments. Applied topically to insect bites can relieve irritation.

Did you know?
You can eat the lavender flower buds! They can be added to biscuits, cakes and sprinkled into salads.