Diagnosing fibromyalgia is one of the hardest things for a physician to do. Much of this difficulty is based on the fact that no two people have the exact same level of pain tolerance, and everyone describes the pain they feel in a different manner to some degree. So, one way that doctor’s rule out any other form of pain or ailment is by exploring the many tender points throughout the body.
Tender points are just as they sound, they are places on the body that are more susceptible to pain, and tenderness. Those that suffer from fibromyalgia often have severe and chronic pain located primarily at these tender points up and down the body. The body has 18 tender points, consisting of 9 pairs, and they are painful when pressed and may spread pain to other body parts. Fibromyalgia is typically diagnosed when at least 11 of these tender points have pressure applied to them. Knowing where these tender points are across your body can help you to better manage your fibromyalgia pain and assist a physician with your diagnosis. Here are the 9 pairs of tender points:
- The Neck: This is often one of the primary locations for pain, as the back and the nape of the neck is where the base of the skull and the top of the spine come together. The pain in this area is often exacerbated by poor sleeping position, poor sitting posture, and rheumatoid arthritis.
- The Elbows: One of the most frequently used joints in the human body, a tender point in the elbow can be excruciating when dealing with fibromyalgia. This pain also radiates and spreads to the forearms. Localized pain generally occurs in the crease of the elbow, and if not treated can lead to tendonitis.
- The Hips: Sufferers over the age of 65 are more likely to see pain in the hips; this is because of their predisposition to osteoarthritis. The pain in the hips is usually felt in the joint, as well as the surrounding muscle. Tenderness can also be felt in and around the buttocks and thighs.
- The Lower Back: Arguably the most common place for pain in anyone, let alone anyone with fibromyalgia, lower back pain can start at the lowest point of the spine and travel upwards.
- The Upper Back: Since this is where a large number of tendons and muscles meet, the instance of pain in the upper back and shoulder area is common. The shoulder blades are where most people hold their tension and stress, and fibromyalgia pain can center in this area a lot.
- The Knees: Knee pain when dealing with fibromyalgia can come from the inside and radiate outward. Knee pain in the joint, muscle and tendons are all common. This pain can be difficult to manage as the legs are used so frequently on a day to day basis.
- The Shoulders: Tender points above the shoulder blades and upper back can sometimes occur, and this can cause discomfort, especially when moving the head.
- The Chest: The sternum is a large area as far as the body is concerned, and pain can come from both sides of it, just a few inches down from the collarbone, at the top of the ribs.
- The Ankles: Just as with the knees, this area is highly common, as walking applies a large amount of pressure to the area. This pain can often move up into the shins and make using the legs very painful.