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Fibromyalgia Tender Points: How are They Used by Social Security to Establish Disability?


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5/30/2017
Alison Rodin
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Fibromyalgia is one of the leading qualifying conditions for Massachusetts Social Security disability benefits. If you suffer from fibromyalgia, then you are probably familiar with the term “tender points.” You also know that they are no fun.

Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition and cannot be diagnosed with lab tests, but we do know that there are 18 points on the body that are extremely tender when pressed. In order to be diagnosed with fibromyalgia, a patient will have pain in all four quadrants of the body for at least three months and experience tenderness in at least 11 of the 18 tender points.

Some important facts about tender points:

  • They are localized around joints, but do not involve the joints themselves. 
  • They are about the size of a penny, and very sensitive.
  • When pressed with a finger, they are painful and will cause the sufferer to start or flinch.
  • They are located all around the body, including the hips, buttocks, knees, back, chest, elbows and neck. 
  • There is no known cause of tender points and tests do not show much tissue inflammation.
  • The 18 points are the same in every fibromyalgia case.
  • During examinations, doctors can conduct a test to determine how many tender points are causing you trouble.


Your doctor can prescribe medication to deal with the pain, but there are also some things you can do at home to relieve your suffering. These include:
  • Therapeutic massage techniques.
  • Application of moist heat.
  • Control of stress through planned rest times throughout the day.
  • Relaxation and breathing exercises.
  • A regular bedtime.
  • Regular exercise.
Once your diagnosis of fibromyalgia is established by your medical records, Social Security will look closely at the pain you are experiencing from that condition. Based on the frequency, severity and duration of that pain, as established by your medical records, Social Security will be able to evaluate your capacity to sustain full time work, and determine if you qualify for benefits. What is needed is not only the diagnosis of fibromyalgia, but also medical records that show pain at a level of severity, frequency and duration as would prevent you from working. 

If you have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia and find it difficult to continue to work in New England, you may qualify for Social Security disability benefits. To find out, contact a Boston disability lawyer at Keefe Disability Law. Call our toll free number at 888-904-6847 to schedule your free case evaluation.

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