What Are Fibromyalgia Tender Points & How Can I Avoid Flare-Ups?

Managing Fibromyalgia Symptoms

What Are Fibromyalgia Tender Points & How Can I Avoid Flare-Ups?

By Fibromyalgia Connect StaffA Published at October 10 Views 16,230 Likes 7

Life with fibromyalgia can feel like you’re riding a rollercoaster with plenty of ups and downs. Your symptoms may seem to recede one day only to spin out of control the next. Together, with the help of your healthcare team, you can identify the things and events that aggravate your fibromyalgia and learn strategies to keep your symptoms in check.

Fibromyalgia Tender Points

One of the unique attributes of fibromyalgia is the presence of tender points in specific areas of the body. When pressure is applied to any of these points, you may feel intense pain, while someone without the condition would only feel pressure. Researchers have identified 18 different tender points.

Locations of tender points include:
• Base of the head/ neck
• Tops of the shoulders
• Between the shoulder blades
• Front sides of the neck
• Upper chest
• Outer elbows
• Upper hips
• Sides of hips
• Inner knees

What Is A Flare-Up?

Although the discomfort of fibromyalgia may never really seem to go away, from time to time, you may experience flare-ups – a sudden assault of amplified pain, irritability, sweating, exhaustion, trouble sleeping and concentrating. A flare-up can be triggered by both internal and external factors.

What Triggers a Dreaded Fibro Flare-Up?

These dreaded fibro-flares seem to attack at any moment and with little warning. But by identifying what aggravates your fibro symptoms, you can take proactive steps to avoid flare-ups, when possible. Common triggers include:

• Weather changes, especially cold or humidity;
• Too much or too little physical activity;
• Stress;
• Poor sleep;
• Hormone changes;
• Anxiety and depression.

How Do I Prevent Fibro Flare-Ups?

Even if you have a great doctor, it’s good to learn self-care techniques to help you manage flare-ups on your own. Here a few things you can try:

Journaling. Journaling is a smart way to discover (and remember) your triggers, so you can avoid them. Since it can take up to 48 hours for an event to trigger a flare, it’s easier to figure out what it was if you’ve recorded key parts of your day. Take a few minutes each day to write down what you did, any meds you took, how you slept and the foods you ate.

Exercise. Regular exercise may help to decrease symptoms. But it’s important to pace yourself. Going overboard on your exercise routine is a sure-fire way to invite a flare-up, but so is not doing enough. Appropriate activities may include walking, swimming and biking. Try to keep your activity on an even level – not overdoing it on good days, but not doing too little on days when symptoms flare and you’d rather crawl back into bed.

Limit stress. Consciously choose to limit or avoid situations that cause you physical or mental tension. Learn stress management techniques like deep-breathing or meditation. Yoga may also help to relieve stress. Allow yourself some quiet time every day to relax.

Get plenty of sleep. Because fatigue is one of the main symptoms of fibromyalgia, it’s important to make sure your body gets the sleep it needs. Set aside enough time for restful sleep every night, limit napping during the day, and try to go to bed and wake at the same time every day.

Eat healthy foods. While there is no “magic” cure to prevent flare-ups, a healthy diet loaded with nutrient-rich fruits and veggies, whole grains and lean protein can go a long way towards easing fibro symptoms. Find out which foods you should eat (and avoid) to get much-needed relief from fibro-flares.

When symptoms flare, you may feel like you’re struggling just to keep your head above water. Often, just knowing that a flare-up will eventually end can help you cope. Being aware of your potential flare symptoms and triggers will help you develop a plan to better deal with them in the future.

You can control your fibro flare-ups, to a certain degree, and enjoy a happy, healthy, pain-free life. Work closely with your doctor and healthcare team to make healthy lifestyle changes and develop a plan that works for you.

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