Chronic PainA Breakdown of Fibromyalgia Tender Points

A Breakdown of Fibromyalgia Tender Points

Fibromyalgia affects an estimated 200-400 million people worldwide. The condition varies significantly from person to person and includes ranges of pain and tenderness. Fibromyalgia is a complex condition that can make you feel sore all over – especially on the tender points on the body. Let’s look at some of these fibromyalgia tender points and what steps you can take to improve your life with the condition.  

A Breakdown of Fibromyalgia Tender Points

Starting from the top

People with fibromyalgia tend to suffer in targeted tender points. These are concentrated in key zones throughout the body.

What makes fibromyalgia such a challenging condition is that many similar symptoms are associated with other chronic pain conditions such as arthritis and multiple sclerosis. However, the key difference is that pain from other conditions are typically associated with the joints. Fibromyalgia patients suffer from pain in and around the surrounding tissue.

In the neck, there are 4 trigger points. These are located on both sides of the spine where it meets the skull along with on both sides of your larynx (the voice box).

woman holding her back with pain

Working down across the body

There are numerous other fibromyalgia target points throughout the body. Tender points most frequently occur where tendons and muscle join. Examples of this include:

  • where your shoulder blades meet your back muscles
  • where the shoulder blades meet the neck

Moving down to the lower back, hips, elbows and knees makes it even more difficult to distinguish between fibromyalgia and other types of chronic pain conditions. Your doctor may confuse symptoms of fibromyalgia with injury or arthritis.

This is particularly true in the elbows and knees. The key difference, however, is that the pain is felt inside your kneepad, not in the joint. Point pain like this is one of the distinguishing features of the condition.

illustration on joint pain in leg

Fibromyalgia diagnosis criteria

The first step with any chronic pain condition is going to your doctor. Because there is not an exact standard, your doctor must diagnose fibromyalgia based on your symptoms. The American College of Rheumatology rubric is based off 3 diagnostic criteria

  • widespread pain 
  • a duration over three months
  • no other health problems that can explain your pain

In some cases, it may be necessary for your doctor to perform other tests to rule out other conditions. These may include checking your vitamin D levels, a thyroid function test and other blood tests.

How to ease fibromyalgia pain

It’s not easy to live with fibromyalgia. However, there have been numerous improvements in patient care that can help greatly improve quality of life and general mobility. There is a wide range of products and services out there to help patients dealing with these symptoms. Generally, doctors aim to manage pain through a dual approach of medication and self-care.

Similar to other chronic pain conditions, health care professionals recommend OTC pain relievers like Advil and Tylenol while striving to more cautiously prescribe opioids. In addition, antidepressants have been used to treat the condition as well as improve sleep quality.

Lifestyle and natural remedies

Many alternative remedies and lifestyle changes can assist with Fibromyalgia pain. Since many people suffer from the same 18 tender points, patients often find relief in the massage, acupuncture, and yoga. Since fibromyalgia is a condition that affects that entire body, many doctors advise following a course focusing on total health improvement including diet and exercise.

The 18 pressure points for the diagnosis of fibromyalgia

Patients often report living more comfortably when they:

  • reduce stress levels
  • eat a well-balanced diet of whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables
  • maintain a consistent and comfortable activity routine targeted to strengthen key areas 

Group and individual therapy sessions may also be beneficial. Fibromyalgia is sometimes associated with conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental health conditions. Being able to identify triggers and manage them is an important tool. 

The bottom line 

When you suffer from fibromyalgia, it can feel like your whole body is on fire. This can create additional stress and create sleep problems. It can also affect your emotional and mental health. If you or a loved one is suffering from these symptoms, talk with your doctor and see what steps you can take to manage this condition and get back to a healthy life.

How do you manage pain in your fibromyalgia tender points? 

Tell us about your pain journey in the comments below. 

The team at Pain Resource updated this post in January 2024 with new information and resources. 

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