Find a Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Healthcare Provider

The more you know about chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS or ME/CFS), the better prepared you'll be when trying to find a healthcare provider. It's a difficult process, and you may need to educate a few health-care professionals along the way. Be sure you know the list of symptoms and become familiar with the various ways ME/CFS is treated.

Physician feeling a patient's neck
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The crux of the problem is that no medical specialty has "claimed" ME/CFS, so finding a knowledgeable healthcare provider isn't as easy as with most illnesses. Even fibromyalgia, which is considered closely related to CFS, falls under the auspices of rheumatology. Chronic fatigue syndrome is not well understood, and many health-care providers have a hard time recognizing it. Some don't even believe it is an actual condition.

All this means that the burden of finding someone qualified to treat you falls squarely on your shoulders. However, you have a number of resources to use in your search.

  • Your Primary Care Provider: If your regular healthcare provider isn't well educated about ME/CFS, see if he or she is either willing to learn or knows of someone who's more knowledgeable.
  • Other Care Providers: If you see a physical therapist, massage therapist or chiropractor, ask who he or she would recommend.
  • Local Support Groups: People involved in local support groups likely will be able to recommend qualified healthcare providers. To find a support group in your area, you can check with your practitioner, local clinics, and hospitals.
  • Advocacy Groups: ME/CFS advocacy group websites may be able to help. Check out this patient-recommended "good doctor" list from Co-Cure.
  • Friends, Family, and Associates: Talk to everyone you know to see if they can recommend a healthcare provider, or whether they know someone with ME/CFS who may be able to recommend one. While most people aren't qualified to say whether a practitioner is competent, they can tell you whether he or she is compassionate, patient, and willing to go an extra mile for you.
  • Referral Services: Check with local clinics and hospitals to see if they have referral services. Also, call your insurance company to see if they have any healthcare providers listed as specializing in ME/CFS.

Give the Healthcare Providers a Check-Up

Once you've compiled a list of healthcare providers in your area, you can verify their credentials at the American Medical Association's DoctorFinder website. Also, see which ones are covered by your insurance plan and who accepts Medicare/Medicaid (if applicable).

Next, you can call the offices of healthcare providers still on your list and talk to the office managers. Tell them you have (or believe you have) chronic fatigue syndrome and ask what kind of experience the practitioner has diagnosing and treating it. You may also want to ask how long it will take to get an appointment, and whether you'll be able to speak to the healthcare provider when you call with problems or questions.

You'll also want to find out whether the healthcare provider is accepting new patients, if the office will accept your insurance (and vice versa), and whether payment or co-pays are due at the time of your appointment.

Meet With the Healthcare Provider

Before making a final decision, you might want to consider a "get acquainted" appointment where you can meet the healthcare provider face to face, ask more questions and get a feel for whether this is someone you'd like to work with. Managing chronic fatigue syndrome requires teamwork between the practitioner and patient, so it's important for you to have a positive relationship. If it's not possible to meet this way, treat your first appointment in the same way so you can decide whether this healthcare provider is a good fit for you.

5 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Treatment of ME/CFS.

  2. American College of Rheumatology. Fibromyalgia.

  3. American Myalgic Encephalomyelitis and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Society. Find a support group.

  4. CO Cure. Find a chronic fatigue syndrome doctor.

  5. American Medical Association. Doctorfinder.

Additional Reading

By Adrienne Dellwo
Adrienne Dellwo is an experienced journalist who was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and has written extensively on the topic.