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Everything You Need To Know About Fibromyalgia Tender Points

Fibromyalgia Tender Points

Fibromyalgia Tender Points - (Image Credit: Shutterstock)

  • Most of us have heard about fibromyalgia, but what about fibromyalgia tender points?
  • You might have wondered what these ‘tender points’ are and what it all means.
  • The term fibromyalgia tender points came about in 1977. Two Canadian physicians proposed the criteria for fibromyalgia based on the identification of sore and tender spots people experienced.
  • If you have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia, you will know all about long-term and widespread pain in your muscles and connective tissues - without any specific cause.
  • There are ways to treat fibromyalgia, fortunately.


A fibromyalgia diagnosis goes back to the 1600s. Other names for fibromyalgia are rheumatism, fibrositis, and muscular rheumatism. It’s an inflammatory disease.

Back in early times, physicians couldn’t find evidence of inflammation under those names. So a new medical condition arose called fibromyalgia. Translated from Greek, it means “pain in the muscles and tissue.”

Even though a fibromyalgia diagnosis is still difficult to ascertain today, there have been fantastic advancements. New research helps doctors and patients much more today.

Fibromyalgia tender points are the specific areas that are painful – close to the joints but not the actual joints themselves. Just poking at someone with fibromyalgia can cause them to flinch in pain.

What Are Fibromyalgia Tender Points And Where Are They Located?

Tender points are randomly located. They are just that, sore, tender points all over the body. Doctors recognized 18 of these tender points, and if 11 of them tested positive for sensitivity, a person was then diagnosed with fibromyalgia.

Location of Tender Points

The fibromyalgia tender points where muscular pain and fatigue occur:

Location of Tender Points

  • Lower neck in front
  • The edge of the upper breast
  • The arm near the elbow
  • Knee
  • The base of the skull in the back of the head
  • Upper outer buttock
  • Hip bone
  • Back of the shoulders
  • Back of the neck

Fibromyalgia As a Joint Disease

It is not what fibromyalgia is, though. It is not a true form of arthritis as some people imagine, and it does not cause deformities of the joints.

When the doctor presses the tender point, it is painful. Apart from pain, fibromyalgia can also cause poor concentration or forgetfulness, stress, low mood, worry, tingling, or numbness and swelling of the hands and feet.

The numbness and tingling are known as paresthesia[1]. There are several reasons people could experience numbness or tingling hands, feet, and legs, and fibromyalgia is only one of them.

Fibromyalgia Pain Points in the Hands

There aren’t any specific surgical treatments to treat it. There are other conditions present, though, at the same time, might benefit from surgical treatments.

Rheumatologists might be able to help with diagnosing fibromyalgia and recommend medications, some exercises, and other treatments that can help with fibromyalgia.

Fibro-related hand pain can even occur when you aren’t using your hands. You might feel pain just by reaching for an object or picking something up.
The muscles in the hands are different from those in our legs and arms. The pain we experience might make us think it’s in our joints rather than the tendons and muscles.

What Causes Fibromyalgia Tender Points?

A doctor will try and make his diagnosis relying on his patient’s feedback. He will know that if his patient has fibromyalgia tender points and is experiencing pain and muscle aches, these symptoms can last for about three months.

Studies have found that fibromyalgia patients can even experience neuropathy. There aren’t any definite or single causes for fibromyalgia, but we have listed 6 possible causes:

Causes Fibromyalgia Tender Points

  • Candida overgrowth – Candida can overgrow and break down the intestine walls. Then it can penetrate the bloodstream and release toxic matter into the system. Generally, most people with fibromyalgia have had candida overgrowth[2].
  • Gluten intolerance – Can you believe that gluten intolerance is associated with over 55 diseases? It does not often manifest with digestive symptoms but more like neurological issues like fatigue, sleep disturbances, depression, cognitive impairment, behavioral issues, and pain.

  • Thyroid problems – Sometimes people with thyroid problems[3] aren’t aware that they have problems. Yet, 90% of the time, they suffer from hypothyroidism. When checking for thyroid disorders, the doctor needs to see that the thyroid functions at the optimal range, which will relieve those problems, such as fatigue, depression, sleep disturbances, and brain fog.
  • Adrenal fatigue – Chronic stress is a major cause of adrenal fatigue because it stresses the adrenal glands. Other causes, like vitamin deficiencies, food intolerance, candida, and mercury toxicity, are the most common adrenal stressors. It is recommended that the patient supports the adrenals with adaptogenic herbs until scientific research comes up with the root cause of fibromyalgia.
  • Nutrient deficiencies – Fibromyalgia patients are very often deficient in vitamin D, magnesium, and vitamin B12. Some doctors have even claimed that when a patient boosts their magnesium levels, their conditions are reversed.
  • SIBO – small intestine bacterial overgrowth and leaky gut – When bacteria in the system get out of balance, usually as a result of a sugar-rich diet and antibiotics, you can lose your ability to digest and absorb the nutrients, particularly vitamin B12. People diagnosed with fibromyalgia or any similar chronic disease should first fix their gut because this is just a vicious cycle where everything is so closely related.

What Are the Symptoms of Fibromyalgia Tender Points?

The severity will vary from one person to the next – sometimes, the symptoms come and go. Common fibromyalgia symptoms include:

  • Fatigue – The patient experiences anything from general malaise to all-over fatigue[4]. It feels as if the body needs recharging.
  • Cognitive function – A person can feel depressed and anxious, have a poor sense of balance, and even feel dizzy. Speech could become slurred with stuttering. Headaches that turn into migraines can be experienced, making it difficult to think clearly.
  • Sleep disorders – They also have difficulties falling asleep and then can’t stay asleep. They experience restless leg syndrome and might even suffer from sleep apnea. They often wake up due to pain and discomfort and experience their feet as ‘burning’.
  • Weakness – People have difficulty lifting their arms and using their hands – they have poor motor control. Their hips feel weak, which can cause poor balance. They might experience difficulty walking. Legs can just give way and cause them to collapse. Hands and feet experience tingling and numbness.
  • Chronic pain – The pain feels like heaviness around the neck and shoulders. The entire body feels achy and weak, particularly in the morning. Sometimes they experience chest pain, which is usually caused by costochondritis. They also experience pain in their legs, lower back, tenderness in the hands and feet, painful and swollen glands, and even pain when touched gently.
  • Depression and anxiety – Many studies are linked to fibromyalgia and depression. People with fibromyalgia are noted to have depression and anxiety up to three times more at their time of diagnosis than someone who does not have fibromyalgia.

What Is the Treatment for Fibromyalgia Tender Points?

Treatment for Fibromyalgia Tender Points
If you want to treat your fibromyalgia trigger points, you have to treat your fibromyalgia condition as a whole.

It might take a few prescriptions and doctor’s recommendations for you to change your lifestyle as well. Your doctor might prescribe these types of interventions:

  • Antidepressants
  • Anti-seizure medications
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
  • Injections of steroids or other medications

The above are all different methods of treating fibromyalgia. Apart from them, it might be recommended to you that you change your lifestyle.

For instance, exercise plays a huge role in managing fibromyalgia because it deals with anxiety and depression, fatigue, and pain.

You also can deal with fibromyalgia through alternative therapists. These can be:

  • Acupuncture
  • Massage
  • Acupressure
  • Physical therapy
  • Yoga
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
  • Exercise
  • Herbs and supplements

Frequently Asked Questions

Yes, to the point that the pain can impact people’s lives. For some people, it is about ongoing neck pain, headaches, and aching joints, which can cause sleepless nights.

They wake up with stiff joints, aching joints, and fatigue. With aching hands and feet, some people can’t even exercise or experience any quality of life.

They feel tender to the touch. If you were to press the areas, they would hurt. These aren’t areas of deep pain.

The pain is superficial, just under the surface of the skin, like over the shoulders or elbows. Those with fibromyalgia usually suffer from 11 out of the 18 tender points

At least 11 of the 18 points had to test positive to be diagnosed with fibromyalgia before 2010.

Since then, the diagnosis method has changed. Today, the diagnosis is made through laboratory tests[5].

Everyone's experience with fibromyalgia pain is different. While some only feel it in certain places, others feel it all over their bodies. Even the intensity of the pain can differ from person to person as well.


The primary symptoms of fibromyalgia are widespread pain – like a constant dull ache that can last for three months.

Not all fibromyalgia cases experience the same pain. Some people experience mild to moderate amounts of fibromyalgia and can live a normal life – if they undergo treatment.

People with severe fibromyalgia pain might be prevented from doing a job properly or even having a social life.

Things like anxiety, changes in the weather, fatigue, hormonal changes, infections, and sleep problems can make fibromyalgia worse.

Today, there are updated guidelines to diagnose fibromyalgia. The research found that many patients who did have fibromyalgia didn’t meet the tender point’s criteria. Doctors realized many patients were being underdiagnosed.

Lifestyle modifications[6] are critical when it comes to managing fibromyalgia symptoms, especially exercise. Exercise can help address many issues related to fibromyalgia (another name is Myalgic Encephalomyelitis or chronic fatigue syndrome).

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