Fibromyalgia Symptoms Checklist: 18 Pain Points Used to Diagnose the Disorder

Diagnosing fibromyalgia can be tough. Pain is highly personal, so one person's discomfort isn't necessarily the same as another person's. 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.

Woman with back pain

Fibromyalgia is a chronic disorder that causes muscle pain and fatigue, according to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS). Other symptoms of the condition include sleep issues, fatigue, and emotional and mental distress; and people with fibromyalgia may also be more sensitive to pain overall.

The disorder, which affects about four million US adults—or about 2% of the entire US population—doesn't necessarily have a known cause, per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but experts believe risk factors that may lead to the condition include age, stress, traumatic events, or other autoimmune conditions. The condition is also more often seen in women.

While there's no cure for fibromyalgia, it can be managed, per the CDC, with medication and lifestyle changes. There's also no specific test for the diagnosis of fibromyalgia, so it can take time to be properly diagnosed. Fortunately, that's where this list of paint points comes into play, which can help doctors determine a fibromyalgia diagnosis and work towards management strategies.

Here, 18 different pain points (nine pairs) that are commonly tender for those suffering from fibromyalgia. If you're dealing with tenderness in any of these areas, talk to your doctor.

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1. The back of the neck.

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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.

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2. The elbows.

Itching in a woman

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.

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3. The front of the neck.

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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.

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4. The hips.

Hip, back and spinal problems in adult ages.

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.

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5. The lower back.

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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.

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6. The knees.

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While knee trouble is common in people with fibromyalgia, the inside of each knee pad may feel tender to the touch.

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7. The upper back.

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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.

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8. The shoulders.

Close-Up Of Woman With Shoulder Pain While Standing Outdoors

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.

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9. The chest.

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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.

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