Diagnosing fibromyalgia can be tough. Pain is highly personal, so one person’s “I hurt all over” isn’t necessarily the same as another person’s “I hurt all over.”
That’s why doctors often check for certain tender points on the body when it comes to diagnosing fibromyalgia. These 18 points (9 pairs) tend to be painful when pressed, and may spread pain to other body parts.
American College of Rheumatology guidelines suggest that people with fibromyalgia have pain in at least 11 of these tender points when a doctor applies a certain amount of pressure. Find out if your pain seems to match up.
Back of the neck
If you have fibromyalgia, you may have tender points at the back of the neck, where the base of the skull and the neck meet.
Neck pain can also be caused by injuries, rheumatoid arthritis, or activities that strain the neck, like slouching or sleeping in an uncomfortable position.
Fibromyalgia patients may also feel tenderness on their forearms, near the crease of each elbow. The pain tends to be below the crease and toward the outer side of the arm.
Other causes of elbow pain can include tendonitis or repetitive strain injuries.
Front of the neck
In addition to the back of the neck, doctors will check potential fibromyalgia patients for pain at the front of the neck.
This pair of trigger points is located well above the collarbone, on either side of the larynx.
Hip pain is common in those with osteoarthritis, but people with arthritis tend to feel it in the joint.
In contrast, people with fibromyalgia may have a tender point near where the buttock muscles curve to join the thighs.
The lower back is one of the most common body parts to be the source of pain. Overall, more than 1 in 4 U.S. adults has experienced low back pain.
However, people with fibromyalgia may have pain trigger points at the very top of the buttocks, right at the bottom of the lower back.
While knee trouble is common in people with fibromyalgia, the inside of each knee pad may feel tender to the touch.
Tender points are often sites on the body where tendons and muscles meet.
Such is the case for this pair of tender points, located where the back muscles connect to the shoulder blades in the upper back.
In addition to tenderness in the upper back, some people with fibromyalgia have tender points just above that, halfway between the edge of the shoulder and the bottom of the neck.
People with fibromyalgia may have tender points on either side of the sternum, a few inches below the collarbone (near the second rib).
The sternum, also known as the breastbone, helps protect the heart and lungs.