Fibromyalgia trigger points

There are eighteen trigger points which give the clearest indication of your physical symptoms

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An introduction fibromyalgia trigger points

Diagnosing fibromyalgia can be tricky as blood tests and scans reveal no abnormalities. For this reason, doctors have to rely on examining physical symptoms to build a picture of your sensitivity to pain and movement. In particular, there are eighteen trigger points (or nine paired trigger points) which give the clearest indication of your physical symptoms.


The eighteen trigger points have very specific locations, as indicated on the diagram. These are at:

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  • Back of the neck – there are two points where the base of the skull and the neck meet, and another two moving down towards the shoulders
  • Front of the neck – there are four further trigger points at the front of the neck, two just above the collar bone, either side of the larynx, and two below the collar bone either side of the sternum
  • Upper back – where the muscles connect the upper back with the shoulder blades, may be two tender points for fibromyalgia sufferers
  • Elbows – fibromyalgia patients may notice increased sensitivity just below the crease of the elbows and towards the outside of the arm
  • Lower back – there are two specific points on the lower back, at the top of the buttocks
  • Hips – rather than on the bone, as with osteoarthritis patients, fibromyalgia sufferers often have increased sensitivity where the buttock muscles join the thighs
  • Knees – there may be a tender point on the inside of the knee pads, just at the point where the two knees rub together.

Although fibromyalgia sufferers may experience pain throughout their body, they will have increased sensitivity at these trigger points, each of which are about the size of a penny.

Testing trigger points

Often a doctor will test these trigger points to help diagnose fibromyalgia, but it is possible for you, with the help of a friend, to test these trigger points too. If pressing the points until the skin turns white causes severe tenderness and shooting pains, this is an indication that they are positive trigger points.

If you experience this sensation with at least eleven of these trigger points, then most doctors will consider you to be a fibromyalgia sufferer, although some doctors consider around eight positive trigger points to be a confirmation of fibromyalgia. Some sufferers experience pain at all of these points.

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