Chronic Fatigue
Syndrome Criteria
The CDC Diagnostic Criteria for
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Major Criteria:

New onset of fatigue causing fifty percent reduction in activity for at least six months exclusion of any other illness that can cause fatigue

Minor Criteria:

Presence of eight of eleven symptoms listed below, or presence of at least six of the eleven symptoms and two of the three signs listed below:

It's reported that only 2% of the population meet all he criteria of the American College of Rheumatology. This estimate is much too low. There are some problems with the ACR criteria. The biggest being many individuals with FMS meet some of the criteria but not all of it. Most of these individuals have other symptoms associated with FMS not explicitly outlined in the ACR criteria. They may have insomnia, irritable bowel, fatigue, mental confusion, and only 4 of the 18 trigger points. Or they may have insomnia, fatigue and 5 reproducible tender points. Although the minor criteria represent the most frequent and usual symptoms associated with FMS, it doesn't account for all of the various conditions seen in FMS patients.


Difficulties in orientation may occur when standing, driving, or reading. Dizziness and balance problems may also be present.

1. Mild fever
2. Recurrent sore throat
3. Painful lymph nodes
4. Muscle weakness
5. Muscle pain
6. Migratory joint pain
7. Prolonged fatigue after exercise
8. Recurrent headaches
9. Neurological or psychological complaints:

    Excessive irritability
    Sensitivity to bright light
    Inability to concentrate

10. Sleep disturbances
11. Sudden onset of symptom complex


1. Low-grade fever
2. Non-exudative pharyngitis
3. Palpable or tender lymph nodes

In 1988 the Centers for Disease Control set the following criteria for diagnosing CFS:

Major criteria

1. New onset of a debilitating fatigue which must persist in a steady or relapsing course for at least six months and restrict normal daily activities by more than fifty percent.

2. The exclusion of other medical conditions that may produce similar complaints to CFS, including autoimmune diseases like lupus or rheumatoid arthritis, chronic infections, psychiatric disorders, and hormonal disorders.

Minor criteria

The presence of four or more of the following symptoms for six months or more.

1. Tender lymph nodes in the neck or in the armpits.
2. Poor sleep.
3. Diffuse muscle pain.
4. Headaches.
5. Short term memory loss and decreased mental function.
6. Multiple joint pain without swelling.
7. Post-exertion malaise and fatigue lasting for more 24 hours.

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