Tender Points vs. Trigger Points: Diagnosing Fibromyalgia

In spinal healthcare, two primary types of points are used to delineate different types of pain and their relevant causes: Tender points and trigger points. While it’s easy to confuse these two different methods of pinpointing pain, it’s important to realize they refer to distinct and separate phenomena.

At Advanced Spine and Posture, we’re adept at differentiating both tender and trigger points in our Las Vegas, NV patients. Doing so is the first step in making an accurate diagnosis of a condition like fibromyalgia.

Tender points vs. trigger points

Tender points relate to fibromyalgia. They’re a useful diagnostic tool chiropractors and other holistic healthcare providers can use to provide an accurate diagnosis of fibromyalgia versus other types of chronic pain. If you have 11 or more of the 18 established tender points, it’s likely your chiropractor will diagnose you with fibromyalgia. However, you may still receive a diagnosis even if you have less than 11.

Trigger points, meanwhile, are areas of concentrated, tightly wound muscle fibers. Trigger points are associated with localized and referred pain. Also called muscular knots, trigger points are often associated with underlying musculoskeletal conditions that could cause long-term adverse health problems if left untreated.

Qualifying sensitivities

It’s important to learn how to differentiate between tender points and trigger points, so you can provide your chiropractor with accurate information. Qualifying the sensitivities you’re experiencing can help a chiropractor move forward with your case. Here are a few of the defining traits of tender points:

  • Localized pain: Tender points cause localized pain directly on the source.
  • Always multiple sites: People with tender points never experience a single tender site; instead, they experience multiple points of tenderness.
  • Symmetrical locations: The tender points are symmetrically located across the body. There are a total of 18 possible tender points.
  • No referred pain: Pain within tender points is always localized and never referred. Tender points can, however, increase sensitivity throughout the body.

While it’s often easy to mistake the two, there are several factors that set trigger points apart from tender points:

  • Taut band and twitch response: Trigger points are defined by a taut band of muscle, exhibiting a twitch response.
  • Single or multiple points: Unlike tender points, it’s possible for a single trigger point to manifest in your body.
  • All skeletal muscles are at risk: Trigger points don’t appear on predetermined parts of the body like tender points do. Instead, they can manifest on any skeletal muscle.
  • Causes specific referred pain: Trigger points refer pain in a specific pattern to other parts of the body, but don’t contribute to overall tenderness.

While trigger points and tender points both represent a healthcare conundrum, it’s important to understand the ways in which they differ. Understanding them will outline an accurate course of treatment, alleviating symptoms and treating underlying conditions.

Get to the point!

Not sure if you have a tender point or a trigger point? Want to know if you may have fibromyalgia? These are questions for a chiropractor.

At Advanced Spine and Posture, we help Las Vegas, NV patients qualify the sensitivity they’re experiencing and will diagnose any corresponding condition associated with them. Then, through a Chiropractic BioPhysics approach, we’ll work to assist you in managing or alleviating your discomfort.

To learn more about ways we diagnose and treat trigger points or tender points, contact us today to schedule a free consultation.

Chiropractic BioPhysics, or CBP, is one of the most scientific, researched, and results-oriented corrective care techniques. CBP-trained chiropractors aim to realign the spine back to health, eliminating nerve interference and addressing the source of pain, fatigue, and disease. As with all chiropractic care, CBP is gentle, painless, and non-invasive.