The diagnosis of Fibromyalgia with patients having widespread muscle pain has become more prevalent in the last few years. There is a true condition called Fibromyalgia, for which a series of at least 11 of 18 “tender points” appearing in all four quadrants of the body must be present in order to qualify for that diagnosis according to the American College of Rheumatology. However, many patients are quickly labeled as having Fibromyalgia as a catch-all diagnosis without having the qualifying tender points, simply because there is no other notable reason for their widespread pain.
Myofascial trigger points, or small nodules in taut bands of muscle tissue, can create a widespread pain pattern that could easily be confused or mislabeled as Fibromyalgia. Trigger points develop in muscles due to a number of perpetuating factors including postural stress, repetitive movement, trauma, emotional stress, nutritional deficiencies, and hormonal fluctuations, to name a few. Trigger points elicit a sensation radiating around the trigger point or referring to another part of the body. These sensations can be pain, numbness, tingling, itching, “goosebumps”, cold, or heat.
When there are multiple trigger points referring pain or other sensations to several areas in the body, it can seem that the patient has widespread pain consistent with a Fibromyalgia diagnosis, without checking for the true “tender points”. Trigger points and tender points are very different – trigger points are palpable nodules that feel like grains of rice or small peas in taut bands of muscle, whereas tender points are sensitive areas in tissue in pre-determined areas without the presence of a nodule.
If you have widespread pain that impedes your quality of life, we encourage you to give our therapies a try. For those with widespread pain, we recommend a combination of treatments for optimum results: Neuromuscular Therapy for treatment of trigger points, Myofascial Release Therapy for restoration of proper joint function and correction of postural holding patterns, and Lymphatic Drainage Therapy for gentle immune and lymphatic support.