Fibromyalgia (FM) is characterised by chronic widespread pain with a heightened and painful response to pressure. Its exact cause is unknown. Fibromyalgia symptoms are not restricted to pain. Other symptoms include debilitating fatigue, sleep disturbance, and joint stiffness. Fibromyalgia can have additional disorders such as depression and anxiety. Fibromyalgia is estimated to have a female to male incidence ratio of approximately 9:1.
Patients with fibromyalgia have tender points by definition. Patients with tender points who have FM may also have trigger points with myofascial pain syndrome (MPS). Thus, these two pain syndromes may overlap in symptoms and be difficult to differentiate without a thorough examination by a skilled physician. Many patients have both FM and MPS. Even if massage can be very good for fibromyalgia, this ailment must be treated under the supervision of a physician.
Tender points are painful spots that hurt when pressed, but do not refer pain elsewhere. Tender points occur in pairs on various parts of the body and because of this characteristic the pain is usually distributed equally on both sides of the body. Even if there is a map of the 18 tender points, their location is not fixed, and this can cause further problems with diagnosis. In traumatic FM, for example, tender points are often clustered around the injury instead of, or in addition to, the 18 official points. These clusters can also occur around a repetitive strain or a degenerative and/or inflammatory problem, such as arthritis. But fybromialgia is not an articular pathology and do not cause deformities in joints. It concerns muscles, ligaments and tendons. Its diagnosis is based on general pain together with pain in tender points when pressure is applied on them.