In the United States, about 5 million people have fibromyalgia, with 80 to 90 percent of patients being women, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women’s Health.
Patients with fibromyalgia have pains that occur all over their body — above and below the waist and on both sides of the body. The MayoClinic.com noted that the pain that fibromyalgia patients experience is described often as “a constant dull ache, typically arising from the muscles.”
In addition to the widespread pain, patients with fibromyalgia have additional pain at certain parts of the body when pressure is applied. These areas are called “tender points.”
There are 18 tender points, or nine pairs of tender points. These include:
• Inside of the knee
• Back of the neck behind the patient’s ear
• The midway point between the tip of the shoulder and the base of the neck
• Behind the bony part of the hip
• Above and toward the outside of the buttocks
• The area in which the back muscles meet the shoulder blade
• Above the collarbone
• Below and to the outside of the elbow crease
• Either right or left of the sternum
Finding the right treatment to manage the pain of fibromyalgia can be difficult and patients may need to try different treatments until they find the one that works best for them. Medications are one option. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women’s Health noted that several medications are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for fibromyalgia, including milnacipran, pregabalin and duloxetine.
The MayoClinic.com recommended that patients with fibromyalgia pain come up with a list of coping strategies when their pain becomes severe. Options include avoiding negative talk (instead of saying “I cannot do anything because of this pain,” say instead “I can do many things, but I just need to take breaks throughout the day"), telling other people about the symptoms, asking for help when it is needed, and using relaxation techniques.
Another option is cognitive behavioral therapy, a type of psychotherapy.