Pain is experienced in different ways by different people. Those with Fibromyalgia (Fibro for short) tend to experience widespread pain much more so than most individuals.
Although Fibromyalgia can be difficult to diagnose, doctors tend to make the diagnosis based on the presence of chronic pain in pressure points located throughout the body.
If you are dealing with chronic pain, read through to the end of this article so that you know how to locate the pressure points on your body that could indicate the presence of Fibromyalgia.
What is Fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia is a condition which is characterized by the presence of severe pain located in different spots throughout the body.
It can be accompanied by a variety of other symptoms, including fatigue, gastrointestinal dysfunctions, autoimmune diseases, and depression. However, the symptom most associated with Fibro is the pain in the body’s 18 pressure points.
The exact cause of Fibro remains unknown at this time, but research tends to suggest that Fibro could have a genetic component, be brought on by an infection, or be triggered by emotional or physical trauma.
What Fibromyalgia Feels Like
As Nic Baker explains, there are eight different types of Fibro pain. Each type feels a little bit different from the rest. To break it down, here are the eight types of Fibro pain and a brief description of what each type entails:
- Floating pain.
- Heavy pain with gut issues.
- Pain that worsens when standing or sitting.
- Pain that feels worse in the morning or due to an injury.
- Back pain accompanied by feeling fatigued.
- Feeling overheated and irritable during the night with accompanying pain.
- Feeling as though you are a woman undergoing menopause.
- Constantly feeling cold, susceptible to illness, and experiencing pain.
You might experience just one of these types of pain or several all at once. Also, as symptoms worsen over time, you might move from a lower number to a higher number. Fibro pain occurs a little bit differently in everyone, so there is no singular, linear progression to the pain types.
Fibromyalgia Pressure Points
Now that you have an understanding of the different types of pain, you can start to pinpoint specific locations where it is occurring.
These areas are called pressure points, and there are a total of 18 of them on your body. These pressure points are divided into nine different pairs.
Here are the areas where you will find pressure points, as they occur in their nine pairings:
- The base of the skull. These spots occur at the back of your neck where the base of your skull rests and occur on the right and left side.
- The back of the neck and the shoulders, on both the left and right sides.
- The inner and upper shoulder areas on the back of the body, on both sides.
- The upper area of the outer buttock, on both the right and left side.
- The rear area of the hip bone, on both sides.
- The lower neck area on the front of the body.
- The left and right edges of the upper breast areas.
- Below the side bone of each elbow.
- On the inside of the knee area, just above the knee.
When a doctor is attempting to diagnose Fibromyalgia, they will consider these pressure points. As set forth by the American College of Rheumatology in 2010, in order to be diagnosed, you must meet the following criteria:
- Have a widespread pain index (WPI) of at least 7 and symptom severity scale score of at least 5 or a WPI of 3-6 and severity scale score of at least 9.
- Have experienced these symptoms consistently for at least three months.
- Do not have another condition that could explain the cause of your symptoms.
How Pain is Triggered in Pressure Points
Just how is pain triggered by these pressure points? There is no simple explanation for the triggering of Fibro pain, and researchers are still working to understand its pathogenesis.
However, it is believed that neurons in the spinal cord become overly-stimulated and create a wind-up effect.
Additionally, decreased inhibition in pain pathways could provide an explanation as to why centralized sensitization of pain occurs in these specific areas of the body.
Tryptophan (the precursor to 5-HTP) and serotonin, which are both involved in how your body moderates the experience of pain, seem to be decreased in those with Fibromyalgia.
In other words, you are all-around more vulnerable to experiencing higher levels of pain in your pressure points than other people.
Relieving Pain in the Pressure Points
The good news is that there are some ways to help relieve pain in your pressure points, and some of these methods can be done from the comfort of your home.
Of course, it is crucial that you see a doctor (in particular, a rheumatologist) for your diagnosis and treatment through medication, self-care is also essential for relieving the pain and avoiding future flare-ups.
Getting the right kind and amount of exercise can reduce the pain in your pressure points. Walking and yoga tend to be two of the most common types of low-impact exercise that assists in pain relief.
Overall, a reduction in physical and/or emotional stress might help reduce the severity of pain.
Additionally, getting enough sleep at night is important. Cultivating your schedule to allow for eight hours of sleep at night and exercise in the afternoon seems to be helpful for many with Fibromyalgia.
Your doctor might also recommend a low-inflammatory diet or body detoxification diet to help improve fatigue or gastrointestinal symptoms.
Fibromyalgia and its pressure points are something that doctors and Fibro patients alike are striving to understand. We don’t have all of the answers quite yet, but we do know where Fibro pain manifests and that there are ways to reduce it.