What are the Tender Points of Fibromyalgia?

Tender points — Have you ever heard a person living with fibromyalgia talk about tender points? Have you wondered what tender points are and how they apply to fibromyalgia? In this article, we are going to find out what a tender point is, where each point is on the body for fibromyalgia and the role that the tender points play in the diagnosis of fibromyalgia.

What are Tender Points?

A ‘tender point’ in relation to fibromyalgia is a point on the body that can radiate with sensations of pain when pressure is placed on them or in general; chronic pain is felt at such ‘tender points’ on the body. These points can be bone or muscle. Stiffness in the area of a tender point is also not uncommon.

How Many Tender Points are There?

There are 18 tender points on the human body that have been associated and connected to fibromyalgia.

Where are the Tender Points Located on the Body?

The 18 points are located on nine areas of the human body. The 18 points mirror each other. The points are located at the same locations on the left and right side of the body. If a tender point hurts on the left side of the body, it will most likely also hurt on the right side. Here is a list of the nine areas where the tender points are located (one on each side of the body):

  1. Occiput

  2. Low cervical

  3. Trapezius

  4. Supraspinatus

  5. Second rib

  6. Lateral epicondyle

  7. Gluteal

  8. Greater trochanter

  9. Knee

How do Tender Points Affect Diagnosis?

If you think that you may be living with fibromyalgia, getting a diagnosis often starts with tender points. This is vital because there is no test that diagnoses fibromyalgia. It is a condition that is diagnosed based on observation, symptoms, and the duration of symptoms. One of the key aspects to gain a diagnosis is — reporting and experiencing pain in 11 out of the 18 tender points associated with fibromyalgia.

Additional Information

Seeking additional information on fibromyalgia? Check out these other resources:

  1. What is Fibromyalgia?

  2. Acupuncture for Fibromyalgia

  3. What Type of Exercise is Best for Fibromyalgia?

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References:

Bellato, E., Marini, E., Castoldi, F., Barbasetti, N., Mattei, L., Bonasia, D. E., & Blonna, D. (2012). Fibromyalgia syndrome: etiology, pathogenesis, diagnosis, and treatment. Pain research and treatment, 2012, 426130. doi:10.1155/2012/426130. Retrieved April 2, 2019, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3503476/

The Predetermined Sites of Examination for Tender Points in Fibromyalgia Syndrome Are Frequently Associated With Myofascial Trigger Points. Ge, Hong-You et al. The Journal of Pain, Volume 11, Issue 7, 644 - 651. Retrieved April 2, 2019, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19914876