The Tender Points of Fibromyalgia: What Are They?

Nov 25, 2022

Diagnosing fibromyalgia can be challenging. Traditional fibromyalgia diagnostics involved applying pressure to 18 discrete points on the body to pinpoint the patient's sensitivity and discomfort source.

Tender points are precisely that: vulnerable places. The American College of Rheumatology established 18 painful points characteristic of fibromyalgia in 1990. These increments were incorporated into a diagnostic procedure.

You could only be diagnosed with fibromyalgia if your doctor found soreness in 11 of these 18 spots before 2010. Tender areas are no longer employed in diagnosing fibromyalgia as the disease's diagnostic criteria have evolved.

Using Sensitive Spots To Diagnose Fibromyalgia

Although sensitive points aren't utilized to diagnose fibromyalgia, we'll discuss them here for historical context. There are 18 of these "sensitive spots" located throughout the body, and they were initially defined to be around the size of a penny.

Those with fibromyalgia often report clusters of painful areas on both sides of their bodies, above and below the waist. These concentrations can be found in and around these zones:

  • neck
  • chest
  • shoulders
  • elbows
  • hips
  • knees

When your doctor presses on a delicate area, you should feel a sharp, pinpoint pain in that specific area. A whitened fingernail indicates that the doctor used sufficient force.

Tenderness in a particular area would only be felt when the doctor pressed. Consistent pain is not a hallmark of fibromyalgia but rather a fluctuation within that spectrum. It might be transient, relocating, or wildly fluctuating in strength daily.

A Guide To Handling Sensitive Subjects

Spot sensitivity is less of a worry for people with fibromyalgia than widespread pain and discomfort. If you have fibromyalgia, your mind is probably preoccupied with the disorder's disruptive symptoms. Potential examples of this are:

  • morning ache
  • movement issues
  • Pain when shaking hands and hugging
  • Muscle spasms and other excruciating pain

Myofascial trigger points commonly cause muscle pain that radiates into other areas of the body. Tense skeletal muscles can develop nodules called trigger points that are firm and knotted.

In contrast to sensitive points, trigger points cause pain locally and elsewhere in the body. Referred pain senses that it is coming from somewhere else in the body. People with fibromyalgia are far more likely to experience trigger points than the general population.

Anyone can indeed learn to make them, though. Myofascial pain syndrome refers to a disorder characterized by persistent, widespread discomfort. As a result, you suffer from constant agony in your trigger points. Fibromyalgia and myofascial pain syndrome may coexist.

Injections Into Trigger Points For Fibromyalgia

Some forms of pain can be alleviated by using trigger point injections to deactivate a painful trigger point. Injections into trigger points are a procedure best left to a pain expert with access to the appropriate machinery.

Saline, steroids, or a local anaesthetic like lidocaine are all viable options for injections. You should inquire with your doctor if they offer trigger point injections or if they know of any other doctors that do.

Healing Fibromyalgia With Acupuncture

Fibromyalgia trigger points, acupuncture sites, and myofascial sensitivity points share several clinical and anatomical characteristics. For thousands of years, the ancient Chinese acupuncture technique has been used to alleviate pain by putting needles into specific places on the body.

If you haven't considered it, acupuncture might be a great therapy choice. If you need to see an acupuncturist fast, you should be able to get an appointment at a clinic near you.

To locate a qualified, local acupuncturist who practices the traditional method, you can search for one in the Acufinder database. The American Academy of Medical Acupuncturists maintains a searchable online database of licensed acupuncture medical professionals.

Methods of Treating Fibromyalgia Using Trigger Point Massage

Two forms of massage treatment were shown to be very helpful for women with fibromyalgia in research published in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics. When lymph veins are congested or injured, a massage method called manual lymph drainage treatment can help empty the excess fluid.

Myofascial tissue is the subject of an aggressive massage technique called connective tissue massage. According to the studies, both methods effectively reduce pain, enhance the quality of life, and raise the pain threshold.

If you're hoping for the finest outcomes from your massage, there are better ideas than saving money by not going to a high-end spa. Friends, your primary care physician, and your fibromyalgia specialist are all good people to start with for recommendations.


Tender points in fibromyalgia are specific spots that, when pushed, can cause sharp, localized pain.

The pain from trigger points is both localized and referred to. If you suffer from one of these conditions and are in pain, discussing treatment options with your doctor is essential.