Fibromyalgia Pain

The predominant symptom of fibromyalgia is pain. Pain differentiates fibromyalgia from chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) and is perhaps one of the most difficult symptoms to cope with. Pain can be constant or may wax and wane. It may affect one area more than others, but is not confined to one body area.

Fibromyalgia Pain Criteria

The American College of Rheumatology has set forth criteria for the diagnosis of fibromyalgia in regards to pain. The College recommends that the following conditions of pain should be present before a diagnosis of fibromyalgia is made:

  • Pain must be long-standing (present for greater than 3 months)
  • Pain must occur in all 4 quadrants of the body (both above and below the waist and on both the right and left side of the body)
  • Pain must be present in 11 of 18 tender point sites (pain, not just discomfort, is present when tender points are palpated with 4 pounds of manual pressure)
  • The 9 areas, located on both sides of the body for a total of 18 tender points, are located at the following sites:
    • The front of the neck between the transverse processes of C5 to C7
    • The front of the chest at the second rib (costochondral junction)
    • The back of the neck where the suboccipital muscles insert
    • The back of the shoulder at the midpoint of the upper border of the trapezius
    • The shoulder blade area at the mid-border of the scapular spine
    • The elbow, 2 cm above the outer bony prominence
    • The buttocks at the upper outer quadrants
    • The back of the hip behind the greater trochanteric prominence
    • The knee area at the fat pad close to the joint line

These tender points are areas where muscles and tendons come together. Fibromyalgia is similar to arthritis in that the pain can be widespread, but in fibromyalgia pain occurs in the muscles, tendons and ligaments as opposed to the joints. Unlike arthritis, fibromyalgia does not cause damage to the tissues from which the pain arises.

Pain is often described as a severe aching, although it can also be throbbing, stabbing and shooting. Pain is very subjective and personal, therefore how one person experiences pain can be vastly different from how another person experiences it.

Fibromyalgia pain is real. At one point in time, fibromyalgia was a diagnosis given to anyone with chronic pain that could not be explained. With new research, it is now known that people who suffer from fibromyalgia experience real pain, with associated changes in brain chemistry that may cause overstimulation of nerves or hypersensitivity to pain stimuli. Research has led to the acceptance of fibromyalgia as a legitimate condition with identifiable symptoms, and the search for treatments that can improve the lives of people living with fibromyalgia is underway.


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Did You Know?

Fibromyalgia is a prevalent condition that affects many people in the United States. Approximately 3.7 million Americans have Fibromyalgia. That is 1 in every 73 people.

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