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Fibromyalgia Pain Is Different

Fibromyalgia Patients Often Have an Increased Sensitivity to Their Environment

People with fibromyalgia have chronic pain and tenderness all over the body.

Although they have pain and tenderness and ache all over, they are often diagnosed by doctors based on tender spots (also referred to as tender points) in certain places in their body.

These include:

  • Front and back of the neck
  • Mid- to upper-back of the shoulders
  • Upper chest
  • Elbows
  • Upper buttocks
  • Hips
  • Knees

Fibromyalgia tender points from the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases

Fibromyalgia “tender points” from the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases.

Other common fibromyalgia symptoms include sleep problems and tiredness.

Studies have also shown that fibromyalgia is a condition that typically causes:

  • Hyperalgesia—increased pain to normally painful contact (for example, when a small pinprick causes a sharp, stabbing pain—more pain than would occur in a person without fibromyalgia)
  • Allodynia—pain to normally nonpainful contact (for example, when a hug or handshake can feel painful)
    • Allodynia may also include increased sensitivity to smells, bright lights, loud sounds, changes in weather, heat, cold, and various foods. For example, some people find they are more sensitive to light, so they need to wear sunglasses. People sensitive to sound may describe sounds as piercing or painfully loud.

Many researchers believe that this sensitivity may point to a “central” problem with pain or sensory processing. To understand this better, let’s explore the idea of "pain." The next section looks at emerging concepts in fibromyalgia.

The health information contained herein is provided for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace discussions with a health care provider. All decisions regarding patient care must be made with a health care provider, considering the unique characteristics of the patient.