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Points of tenderness About Fibromyalgia

Points of tenderness in fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia is a frustrating condition of chronic pain and fatigue. It affects 2 to 4 percent of the population, predominantly middle-aged women, however, men and children also can have the disorder.

The symptoms can vary in intensity and fluctuate over time, but in general fibromyalgia often disrupts the person's ability to function at full capacity on a daily basis. Typically a person affected with fibromyalgia will have chronic widespread muscular pain, fatigue and tenderness over specific places on the neck, shoulders, back, hips, arms, and legs. (See illustrations to the left)

Many people with fibromyalgia also experience additional symptoms such as trouble sleeping, fatigue, morning stiffness, headaches, irritable bowel syndrome, irritable bladder, cognitive and memory problems (often called “fibro fog”), temporomandibular joint disorder, pelvic pain, restless leg syndrome, sensitivity to noise and temperature, and anxiety and depression.


There is no laboratory or other diagnostic test for fibromyalgia so it must be diagnosed based on patient symptoms and physical examination.

Treatment: There is no cure for fibromyalgia, but the following strategies can greatly improve symptoms and the quality of your life:

  • Medication can help the symptoms.
    • Lyrica (pregabalin) has been found to reduce pain and improve the quality of sleep. When sleep problems are reduced and sleep becomes more refreshing, musculoskeletal tissues are better able to heal, which reduces pain and improves the quality of life. Studies showed that a substantial number of patients with fibromyalgia received good pain relief with Lyrica, but there are other patients who didn't benefit. There are many potential side effects, some can be serious.
  • Exercise One of the best things you can do if you have fibromyalgia is exercise. It's important to start off slowly, however. Physical therapy can be extremely helpful in calming down pain and getting started on an exercise routine that is well tolerated and customized for you.
  • Get enough sleep Follow the following sleep tips for a good night's sleep
  • Follow a sensible diet of well-balanced meals
  • Work on self-management skills, such as
    • Manage stress
    • Make work changes if necessary
    • Plan ahead and try to stay organized to avoid stressful situations
    • Moderate activities. Spread out daily tasks and allow for periods of rest when needed. Avoid overdoing it at the holidays.
    • Get enough sleep
    • Eat right
  • Educate yourself -Nationally recognized organizations like the Arthritis Foundation and the National Fibromyalgia Association are excellent resources for information you can share with family, friends and co-workers.
  • Join a support group - It's helpful to network with those suffering with a similar condition.
  • Alternative therapies have been found to help in some cases
    • Massage can be helpful in most people.
    • Acupuncture helps relieve pain and other symptoms in some people, but others report little or no improvement.
    • Biofeedback helps relieve pain and other symptoms in some people, but others report no improvement.
    • Other therapies - chiropractic manipulation, bright light, lasers, selenium supplementation, musical
      tones, and malic acid/magnesium supplementation have not been found to be effective.
Points of tenderness in fibromyalgia
In the News...

First Drug Approved for Fibromyalgia
In a report from the FDA, "On , Lyrica (pregabalin) became the first FDA-approved drug for specifically treating fibromyalgia. Marketed by Pfizer Inc., Lyrica reduces pain and improves function in patients with fibromyalgia. While patients with fibromyalgia have been shown to experience pain differently from other people, the mechanism by which Lyrica produces its effects is unknown. The drug was already approved to treat seizures, as well as pain from damaged nerves that can happen in people with diabetes and in those who develop pain following the rash of shingles. FDA, June 2007

Fibromyalgia linked with sleep abnormalities
In a recent study of 28 patients with fibromyalgia, 27 were found to have disrupted sleep abnormalities resulting from excessive work of breathing while asleep.  It is believed that sleep-disordered breathing results in the symptoms of fatigue, bodily pain, heartburn, depression, and insomnia frequently reported by patients diagnosed with fibromyalgia.   In this study, fourteen of the 27 patients accepted CPAP treatment for sleep-disordered breathingAfter three weeks of using the CPAP nightly, 46% reported improvement in fatigue, 30% found improvement in pain, 39% had improvement in sleep problems, 23% were found to have a decrease in functional disability, and 47% noted improvement in GI symptoms.  Sleep. 2004;

Local Support Groups
Suncoast Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Support Group
11am-1pm, 3rd Saturday of every month, Seminole Library, Seminole, FL;  Call 727-559-8260 (last updated Feb 2008)
Educational Video Tutorials
Interactive Health Tutorials at Medline Plus  Scroll down to Fibromyalgia under Diseases and Conditions 
Internet References
Written by N Thompson, ARNP, Last updated Feb 2008

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