As anyone who experiences or has loved ones who experience fibromyalgia knows, it is very painful. Sufferers of fibromyalgia sometimes describe the sensation as achy or as if they’ve strained their muscles.
Some would even describe it as a burning, or even, be stabbing sensation. Regardless of the type of sensation, the part of the body that is most affected is the muscular system. Our muscles are what enable us to move our body parts.
They are incredibly important to our everyday functions and capabilities to do almost anything. Therefore, people who suffer from this uncomfortable and painful condition are greatly inhibited in their abilities to do certain things.
Many patients describe the formation of muscular knots around their body, as well, called fibro knots. They are mostly centered around their shoulders, neck, and back.
However, it is arguable whether these knots are the result of fibromyalgia, or myofascial pain syndrome (MPS), as they are known as myofascial trigger points and are generally not any widespread pain.
So are these nodes caused by or do they go hand in hand with fibromyalgia? Or are they two separate disorders entities fighting in the same body?
Differences in fibromyalgia and MPS
While the symptoms of fibromyalgia are well-known in the medical world, what causes them and what is actually happening in the body are not as easily found.
According to experts, fibromyalgia is a chronic disorder that causes constant fatigue, as well as pain and discomfort in the muscles in areas called tender points of the person living with it.
The patient must suffer from pain in at least 11 of the 18 tender points in order to be diagnosed with fibromyalgia. Some people believe that fibromyalgia is not a real disorder at all, but that it is a product of the mind of the person suffering these symptoms.
On the other hand, MPS is a result of overuse of or injuries to muscles, resulting in the formation of tight muscle fibers and tissues (nodes or knots).
These knots and points of pain are known as trigger points. When touched or irritated, the pain can spread throughout the muscle into different parts of the body.
This pain is not generalized throughout the body but is normally centered in one or a few specific muscles of the body.
Tender Points Versus Trigger Points
As stated above, one of the differences in fibromyalgia and myofascial pain syndrome is the presence of tender points and trigger points.
In fibromyalgia patients, there are 18 tender points in total spread all over the body. These are particular spots that are extremely sensitive and very painful when pressure is applied. Out of the 18 tender points, at least 11 must be painful in order to diagnose fibromyalgia.
Trigger points are a bit different. While still painful, the pain is often redirected to another part of the body when pressure is applied, even if the point itself is not tender or sore.
Also, while there are several tender points present in the body, it is possible to only have one trigger point. A trigger point can also be located anywhere on the body. That is to say that it can be located in any skeletal muscle.
Similarities in fibromyalgia and MPS
Because of the similar symptoms in the two, as well as the fact that in many cases, the two disorders overlap, they can often be confused for one another or thought of as the same disorder. This can result in the diagnosis and treatment of just one of these conditions.
Unfortunately, the treatments of the two are very different, which means that if they are confused for one another, the patient may not receive the correct treatment and may have to continue living in pain until the correct diagnosis has taken place.
Both conditions cause:
- Muscle pain
- Sleep disturbances
- Memory problems
As one can see, they share many symptoms which can make it easy to mistake one for the other. However, they are not the same thing and should be treated as two separate conditions in order to rid the sufferer of all symptoms.
One other thing that some people might argue that these illnesses have in common is knots or nodes that form in the muscles. Many sufferers of both conditions refer to knots that form inside the muscles that cause pain and restrict the movement and use of muscles.
While in the case of MPS these knots are trigger points, some people who have fibromyalgia refer to them as fibro knots.
It is unclear, however, if these knots are a result of someone who suffers both conditions at the same time or not. If this is the case, then the knots are more than likely trigger points. But there are some people who firmly believe that these are fibro knots and are directly related to fibromyalgia.
The truth is, it is hard to tell if they are two separate entities, or one or the other. The reason is that many times, fibromyalgia and myofascial pain syndrome occur together, making the differentiation difficult.
Fibro Knots: Fact or Myth?
It is debatable as to whether or not fibro knots actually exist. As was previously stated, fibromyalgia and myofascial pain syndrome can occur at the same time, making it very hard to differentiate between the symptoms of each condition.
Some people very much believe that fibromyalgia can cause sore, tight nodes or knots deep inside the affected muscles, AKA fibro knots. However, others would argue that this is really a myofascial trigger point.
Experts are not sure why it is common to suffer from both illnesses at the same time, as they cannot find a true common factor. However, it seems to be a recurring pattern, therefore creating a mixture of symptoms that are hard to distinguish between.
In cases such as these, there is quite a bit of controversy as people have made up their minds and are sure of what they are experiencing, not to be told any differently by anyone. Especially someone who is not experiencing their pain.
Therefore, the subject of fibro knots is uncertain. Fibro knots are described as deep knots or nodes in the muscle tissue that restrict movement and cause pain when touched.
This description also fits that of myofascial trigger points, therefore clouding the air a bit when it comes to differentiating between the two. Until experts discover scientific proof one way or another, it will remain a medical mystery.