Healthy Living

Fibromyalgia: The 18 Tender Points

Fibromyalgia: The 18 Tender Points

Are you suffering from aching or stinging around various parts of your body? It might not be just something common like muscle soreness if it keeps occurring and it seems like there's no chance to stop it. Chances are, you might have fibromyalgia. But before you start self-diagnosing, you're going to need the knowledge on what the disease is and the tender points that fibromyalgia is associated with that would keep your body in pain. So read on as we talk about everything you need to know regarding this condition, also learn all about the fibromyalgia tender points to take note of. It's essential to learn all about fibromyalgia tender points and the other causes and symptoms, so you'll be able to get a proper diagnosis and treatment from your doctor.

What is fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia (pronounced as fy-bro-my-AL-ja) is also called fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS). It's a common chronic pain disorder from multiple tender points, with a host of symptoms that make you feel uncomfortable. The term comes from the Latin word fibro for fibrous tissue, and the Greek words myo for muscle and algia for pain. This chronic pain disorder is characterized by the pain one feels in fibromyalgia tender points. About 10 million Americans have fibromyalgia, with a ratio of 8 to 2 (women over men). Studies have shown that women are more prone to the disorder. But it can happen to anybody, may it be people of any gender or age. Even children can suffer from this disease. Take note that this disorder isn't just about pain, but it also comes with a host of other symptoms that not many people would know about unless they or their loved ones would have it.


There is no exact cause of this chronic pain disorder. Researchers have thought it to be from abnormal levels of chemicals in the brain, as well as changes in the central nervous system that would process pain messages around the body. Another primary cause would be genetics.  In some cases, this condition is triggered by some external factors, either from injuries or stressful events that would abruptly change the chemical balance in a person's brain. These causes would include:

  • Injuries or infections
  • Childbirth
  • The aftermath of an operation
  • Recent breakup from a relationship
  • Death of a loved one
  • Other types of very stressful or traumatic events

Accumulated stress over years of working hard may also have long-term effects that your body will deal with in the future. It's been linked to hormonal disturbances that may also cause fibromyalgia to happen.

All about fibromyalgia tender points

There are 18 tender points when you suffer from fibromyalgia, which is nine pairs of joints around your body. These tender points are known as pain points or tenderness around the joints, but not on the joint itself. They would hurt when you put slight pressure on them. They are not deep areas of pain and aren't large. They are usually very small, and some may be more sensitive than others. It may cause you to flinch or pull back. Just like fibromyalgia itself, there's no exact reason as to why it happens. There is no sign of inflammation, but these points are not found in random and would occur in predictable areas around your body. Your doctor will be able to diagnose the condition based on where you feel the tender points. But to completely diagnose it, the symptom of pain around these points should be present for about three months.

The 18 tender points

These nine joints are as follows:

  • Front lower sides of your next
  • Upper chest
  • Inner elbows
  • Above your inner knees
  • Behind the head
  • Top of your shoulders
  • Upper back by your shoulder blades
  • Upper buttocks
  • Hips

Tender points occur on both sides of the joints, which is why there are 18 tender points in total. But remember that these are usually the main trigger points where people would feel pain. There may be other individuals who suffer from sensitivity or pain in other areas of the body as well. Also, you won't be experiencing simultaneous pain. Some days you can experience pain in one area and then another area the next day. Again, it varies among individuals.

Other symptoms

Besides pain in tender points, there are also other symptoms you'll need to know, such as:

  • More sensitivity to pain
  • Extreme tiredness or fatigue
  • Stiff muscles
  • Difficulty in sleeping
  • Problems with processing things (this is known as fibro-fog), memory loss or difficulty in concentration
  • Headaches
  • Irritable bowel syndrome- This is a condition that would cause stomachaches and bloats.
  • Some people have also experienced depression or anxiety

While some people experience all these symptoms, most do not. It varies throughout every individual. So if you experience any of these symptoms for a few months at a time, along with pain around the tender joints, then it's time to see a doctor.

How to treat fibromyalgia

While fibromyalgia is not life-threatening, it's something you can't cure and will need to address. Fortunately, you'll be able to treat the symptoms and lessen the discomfort through a number of methods. Doctors would prescribe medications to treat the symptoms, depending on what you suffer from. You can be prescribed any of the following:

  • Pain medication for those who are often suffering from the pain of tender joints.
  • Sleep medication if you have trouble sleeping due to the discomfort from the condition.
  • Antidepressants if one of the symptoms you suffer from is depression, anxiety, or other sleep problems.

There are also home remedies you'll be able to follow. Because of the discomfort, you'll need to make some lifestyle changes, sometimes having to quit some strenuous activities or work. Massage therapies, acupuncture, or even yoga can help manage the symptoms. Finding time to relax and getting support from loved ones is also a huge help. Exercise and proper sleeping habits will help improve the symptoms and help you sleep better.

In conclusion

For those who have constant pain around their bodies, it may mean something more than just the usual soreness that people sometimes feel. If you have any of these symptoms discussed, or feel a bit of pain when the tender points mentioned above are touched, then it's time that you see a doctor to get diagnosed with fibromyalgia. Now that you know what this condition does and what to expect from it, have it treated immediately and relieve the pain you feel around your body as soon as you can.