Fibromyalgia Pressure Points: Their Locations and Role in Diagnosis

A hand touching the neck of a woman

Pressure points, tender points, trigger points…

Are these all the same things? What are they? WHERE are they? Why do you need to know?

In this blog post, we will discuss what exactly pressure points are, their locations on the body, and how they play a role in diagnosing fibromyalgia syndrome.

And we’ll answer those other questions, too.

Pressure Point Testing

Fibromyalgia pain is widespread and results from unknown causes. As such, proper diagnosis of this condition requires extensive testing to rule out other medical issues that cause similar symptoms. One type of test used for fibromyalgia diagnosis is pressure point testing, also known as tender point examination or palpation.

Pressure point testing involves a doctor or health care provider pressing on specific areas of the body to detect pain. Pressure points (also known as fibromyalgia tender points – yes, these two are the same things) are locations where tenderness, pain, and/or stiffness may indicate fibromyalgia.

Note: Trigger points are NOT the same thing as pressure/tender points. Trigger points are “tender to the touch and can refer pain to distant parts of the body.” – VeryWellHealth

Pressure Point Location

The most common 18 sites used in pressure point testing for fibromyalgia include both sides of the neck; the trapezius muscles (the triangular-shaped muscles of the neck and shoulders); both elbows; both upper, middle, and lower back; hip joints; both sides of the buttocks; knees; and inner ankles.

The test is conducted when a doctor presses with a finger on a pressure point about the size of a penny for at least four seconds to gauge sensitivity. If 11 out of the 18 fibromyalgia tender points cause pain, it is highly likely that a patient has fibromyalgia. This type of testing can help to rule out other diagnoses and to confirm fibromyalgia with accurate results.

Photo of Head Bust Print Artwork

It’s important to keep in mind that pressure point testing alone does not definitively diagnose fibromyalgia; it’s just one part of the diagnosis process. Other criteria as defined by the American College of Rheumatology must be met before a doctor can make an accurate fibromyalgia diagnosis.

Pressure point testing for fibromyalgia is a simple yet effective way to confirm suspicions about this condition in a safe and non-invasive way.

While it’s important to seek a diagnosis and treatment from a doctor, understanding pressure point testing can help people to better understand their own symptoms and how they relate to fibromyalgia.

How to Use the Information Gained from Pressure Point Testing

If a patient’s pressure point test indicates sensitivity, it suggests that further testing is necessary to confirm a fibromyalgia diagnosis. But it goes beyond that, too.

Areas Needing Treatment

The information gained from pressure point testing can also be helpful in identifying specific areas of the body that may need additional treatment and care. Knowing which areas are tender points can help a person to better focus on those areas in their daily activities, such as exercise and stretching. It can also be helpful in pinpointing areas that may need additional medical attention or require more frequent visits to the doctor.

Check out our Biome V3 probiotic capable of reducing pain:

A patient on a diagnostic table and a doctor

Identifying Other Conditions

In addition, pressure point testing can also reveal any other conditions that may be causing pain in the body. By ruling out other medical issues, doctors can better hone in on the cause of a patient’s most severe pain and develop an appropriate treatment plan to address it.

Diagnostic Criteria for Fibromyalgia

In order to diagnose fibromyalgia, doctors will typically evaluate a person’s medical history and physical examination. The diagnosis of fibromyalgia is based on the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) 2010 criteria which states you meet the following three conditions:

Play Video
Scrabble tiles spelling out TIPS

Widespread pain index (WPI) score of seven or higher and a symptom severity scale (SS) score of five or higher. Or you have a WPI score of three to six and a SS score of nine or higher.

You’ve experienced symptoms at a similar level for at least 3 months.

You don’t have another disorder that could explain your symptoms.

Doctors may also order additional tests, such as blood tests or x-rays, to rule out other conditions that may be causing the symptoms. Once all of these criteria have been met, doctors can make a diagnosis of fibromyalgia.

Pressure point therapy is a valuable tool for those suffering from pain related to fibromyalgia. This type of therapy uses massage, pressure application, and stretching to target painful areas of the body. It helps to reduce pain, improve range of motion, and increase circulation in the affected area.

Massage therapy

One way to use pressure point therapy for managing pain related to fibromyalgia is by applying pressure to tender points. For example, if a person has tenderness in their neck, they can use the tips of their fingers or thumbs to gently massage the area and apply pressure in small circles. This helps to reduce inflammation and tension, while also increasing blood flow to the area.

Massage therapy has been shown to bring relief to other chronic conditions, including rheumatoid arthritis. Of course, always speak to your healthcare provider before beginning any new treatment plan and to connect with qualified professionals near you.


Another way to use pressure point therapy is by stretching the muscles around tender points. Stretching helps to reduce tension and improve flexibility, while also promoting circulation in the body. It’s important to be gentle when performing stretches on tender points, as too much pressure can cause pain or discomfort.

When using pressure point therapy, it’s important to be mindful of the amount of pressure being applied. Too little pressure will not have an effect, while too much can cause pain or discomfort. It’s best to start with gentle pressure and slowly increase it until you find a pressure level that is comfortable for you.


In addition, be sure to drink plenty of water before, during, and after a pressure point therapy session. This helps to keep the body hydrated, which can help with inflammation and improve overall well-being.

Woman Standing on Sunflower Field

By taking the time to understand tender points and applying pressure point therapy as appropriate, people suffering from fibromyalgia can better manage their pain and maintain a healthy lifestyle. Pressure point therapy provides an effective way to reduce pain, improve range of motion, and increase circulation in the body. With practice and patience, it can be a powerful tool for managing fibromyalgia-related pain.


Living a Better Life

By now you should have a better understanding of pressure points, where they are located in the body, and what role they play in proper fibromyalgia diagnosis. You also have some tips on how to use pressure point therapy for managing tender point pain related to fibromyalgia. With the right information and guidance, people suffering from this chronic condition can lead a better quality of life.


If you are experiencing fibromyalgia symptoms, including severe widespread pain sleep disorders, cognitive symptoms, mental health issues, and many other symptoms, it’s important to speak with your healthcare provider. They can help to diagnose the condition and provide treatment options that are right for you. With the right care, people with fibromyalgia can manage their pain and lead a healthy, active lifestyle.

We also welcome you to join our community and explore our wellness products here at Native Formulas. We’re people with fibromyalgia too, so we truly understand the journey. Having found solutions that provide real relief from our symptoms, we want to share that relief with as many people as possible.

Check out our Restore 3 made for people suffering from fibromyalgia:

If we can help you in any way or if you have any questions for us, please reach out. We’re always happy to chat!

Add Your Heading Text Here

Add Your Heading Text Here