Do you suffer with fibromyalgia leg pain? Pain that is associated with the tender points and trigger points in multiple sites? Although we often refer to them as tender POINTS, they are actually more like tender AREAS.
I have yet to meet someone with fibromyalgia that has merely a POINT of pain or tenderness. (However, both tender points and widespread pain areas are still used for diagnosis) And because tender points differ from trigger points, refer also to the ‘trigger points’ article for a more in depth discussion on TRP’s in fibromyalgia.
Now most people with fibro describe an “area” of pain that radiates to the surrounding tendons or trigger points. Often there is an involvement with an associated tendon, ligament or TRP (trigger point). This is what causes the pain to radiate or extend.
Let’s take for example the tender points on the inside of the knee. This area can extend on average from 2-4 inches above and below the inside of the knee. So it really makes more sense for reference to call this anAREA of pain, especially when it comes to working solutions. Yes, there are many tender points in the lower extremity of the fibro body.
Examples are sitting for extended periods, standing in one place, displacement OR shifting of weight while standing, driving, travel, cleaning activities, etc.
What else can exacerbate fibromyalgia leg pain? Trigger points, inactivity, loss of muscle mass, lower back pain, sciatica, SI joint involvement, certain medications, cold/flu and more. The interesting thing about fibromyalgia related leg pain is that it doesn’t matter whether you are standing, sitting or lying down.
The propensity for pain in the lower quadrant of the fibro body is just greater due to trigger points woven within layers of muscle and extremely tender areas that are not directly related to any activity or exercise.
The longest and most widely used muscle in the leg (otherwise known as the Sartorius muscle in the quadricep area) is responsible for much of our mobility in the lower quadrant of the fibro body. Here in the adjacent picture I have hi-lited these areas that cause most pain within the lower fibro body.
When this muscle and the surrounding muscles become de-conditioned, everything around this area also weakens including tendons and ligaments.
Agility can be lost and these “areas” of interest become wider still (as shown in the adjacent graphic), with the tender point pain spreading both above and below the actual point location on the inside of the knee.
The tender points within the buttock area can also radiate pain down the leg, often on the sides and back of legs. Hip and leg pain can result because the Illiotibial band (outside of legs) runs from the hip area down the side of each leg and when this area is tight can cause stabbing pain and severe stiffness.
Weakness and/or shortening in the hip abductors can also cause extreme tightness and decrease mobility.Illiotibial Band Syndrome (ITBS) can occur in athletes through repetition and overuse but this painful condition is not uncommon for people with fibromyalgia.
Now this is where there is some controversy. Is the fibro worsening OR are these points/areas of the fibro body becoming weaker? Are you suffering with Chronic Myofascial Pain on top of fibromyalgia? That could be the reason that you feel your leg pain is getting worse, as there are many layers of trigger points in the lower body.
One thing to consider with fibromyalgia and leg pain is that any position we stay in too long, like sitting or standing can increase pain and activate trigger points. The tender points will always be there on some level, but it is the trigger points that become activated from repetitive movements or being in one position too long.
I say it often, I highly recommend not sitting for long first thing in the morning. When we go from lying in bed to sitting first thing in the morning, this only creates more stiffness in the lower back, hips, legs and knees.
I had to start thinking outside of the box and this is when I set out to create fibro specific exercises and start working with my fibromyalgia leg pain in a way that I had not previously done. This doesn’t mean that we can “cure” ALL pain through conditioning of the body, but when strength and agility are lost, everything suffers. So now we must look at what will counteract this phenomena that has become so common in fibro today.