Usefulness of tenderness to characterise fibromyalgia severity in women

Clin Exp Rheumatol. Nov-Dec 2011;29(6 Suppl 69):S28-33. Epub 2012 Jan 3.


Objectives: To investigate the usefulness of tenderness (tender points count (TPC) and algometer score) to characterise fibromyalgia (FM) severity and symptomatology in women.

Methods: The study sample comprised 174 women aged 51±7 years. We ossesse tenderness using pressure algometry; quality of life by means of the Short-Form 36 Health Survey (SF-36) and the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS). We used the FM impact questionnaire (FIQ) to assess FM severity and symptomatology. Patients were categorised according to three FIQ-derived categories: FIQ<70 vs. ≥70; FIQ<59 vs. ≥59; and FM-type I and II.

Results: TPC was significantly higher in the group of patients with FIQ≥59 (16.9±2 vs. 15.6±4, p=0.02), whereas no differences between groups were observed according to FIQ≥70 (17.0±2 vs. 16.2±3, p=0.12) or FM type (16.8±3 for type II vs. 15.9±4 for type I, p=0.13). We observed a significant association between TPC and FIQ-job difficulty, pain, morning tiredness and stiffness dimensions (all p<0.05), yet it was not correlated with total score of FIQ, FIQ-anxiety, fatigue and depression dimensions (all p>0.05). Algometer score was lower in the FIQ≥70 (45.7±12 vs. 51.1±14, p=0.05) and FIQ≥59 (46.7±13 vs. 52.7±14, p=0.05) groups, and there were no difference between FM types (48.7±13 vs. 49.5±14 for type II and I respectively, p=0.81). Algometer score was not associated with total score of FIQ or FIQ dimensions (all p≥0.1).

Conclusions: Widespread pain and pain hypersensitivity, as measured by TPC and algometer score, do not seem to be useful to characterise FM severity and symptomatology (measured by FIQ) in women.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Chronic Pain / complications
  • Chronic Pain / diagnosis*
  • Chronic Pain / physiopathology
  • Female
  • Fibromyalgia / complications
  • Fibromyalgia / diagnosis*
  • Fibromyalgia / physiopathology*
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Hyperalgesia / complications
  • Hyperalgesia / diagnosis*
  • Hyperalgesia / physiopathology
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain Measurement / methods*
  • Pain Threshold
  • Pressure
  • Quality of Life
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Sickness Impact Profile
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Syndrome