Women are most likely to suffer migraines…and chronic pain. New research shows that when it comes to pain symptoms of chronic back pain, neck pain, arthritis, and hernias, women consistently report higher pain scores than men with the same exact condition.
Study focuses on chronic pain
In a recent Stanford study on sex differences in pain, medical records of over 72,000 patients were reviewed, which included over 160,000 pain scores of men and women who suffered from a painful disease. These findings, published by the Journal of Pain, make up the largest survey to date that investigates sex-specific variations in disease-associated pain intensity.
Scientists noted a significant difference in the way females suffering from musculoskeletal, circulatory, respiratory, or gastrointestinal disorders reported their pain intensity.
Other conditions covered were infectious diseases, physical injuries, and poisoning.
On a 10-point pain scale, women averaged 1 point higher in pain intensity than male pain patients, with 0 signifying no pain at all, and 10 being the worst pain imaginable.
What do these findings mean for chronic pain patients?
It means that when a woman who has given birth at least once in her lifetime rates migraine headache pain as the “worst pain imaginable,” you should probably take her word for it…migraine pain is debilitating, emotionally draining, and overwhelming, and aside from labor pains, it’s hard to imagine anything more excruciating…
…On the other hand, do these findings mean that women are more likely to complain about pain, whereas men are taught from birth to hide their pain? Are women, perhaps, not as pain-tolerant as they believe…?
Perhaps, medical staff- ER doctors, nurses, therapists- should consider one’s sex as an important factor when prescribing pain treatments. One pain point might not seem like a lot, but it’s enough to tell a doctor if a certain pain medication is working…
Hopefully, one day, doctors will be able to use this data to decide which painkillers, migraine drugs, or headache remedies to prescribe for women with chronic pain…and which ones not to bother with at all.
What do you think? Please weigh in on this controversial issue.
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