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  • PAIN MANAGEMENT

    Understanding the Basics.

    Woman in Pain

    Women and pain - Disparities in experience and treatment

    Women experience pain differently from men. Unlike men, women have a tumultuous relationship with pain. Most of the time, it is hard for a woman to get a prompt and accurate diagnosis of the pain she is experiencing. Healthcare professionals often attribute women’s discomfort to psychological issues rather than physical. People don’t take their problems with the same severity and seriousness that men usually get.

     

    Historically there was a low representation of women in the clinical trial regarding pain despite regular calls for change. Gender bias has its roots in the ways of conducting medical research. Now, the National Institute of Health (NIH) is making sure that the women should account for roughly half the number of participants in a study, but there is more progress to be made.

     

    Chronic pain and women

     

    Women report more intense chronic pain than men in almost every disease category. They suffer from pain caused by diseases like endometriosis that affect nearly 10% of women worldwide. Vulvodynia affects around 16% of women in the United States at some point in their lives and contributes to chronic pain in women.

    A large number of reproductive age women might experience pelvic pain, which goes untreated for extended periods. Close to one-third of the women reported having chronic pelvic pain that went untreated for longer than six months.

     

    It’s also important to note that the patient and the medical professional’s gender plays a vital role in taking care of the patient’s pain. Female healthcare providers are more likely to prescribe psychological treatment for women than for male patients experiencing a similar kind of pain.

     

    Society usually dismisses chronic pain in women and lacking records of pain research involving women; it is not surprising to see that many chronic pain conditions that don’t have any direct treatments are more common among women. Not only different procedures are also recommended to men and women, but when it comes to prescribing medication, including opioid pain medication, there is also a disparity between men and women.

    Woman and Pain

    Why are females more likely to have Chronic Pain?

    The latest research on gender and pain shows how the overall pain experiences differ for women compared with men. Multiple factors play a role in how a person experiences pain. These factors include genetics, exercise, social status, and information processing in the brain. For women, puberty, menstrual cycle, puberty, hormones, and reproductive status also plays a part in affecting their threshold for pain and perception.

    Following are the most common areas of pain for women:

     

    Musculoskeletal pain

    The NIH (national institute of health) refers to many studies regarding the musculoskeletal pain in women and men. They found that in one study covering 17 countries with more than 85,000 participants, the result indicated that the occurrence of chronic musculoskeletal pain is higher among women than men. Several other studies from Australia and Europe have concluded that instances of chronic musculoskeletal pain are more common in females than men.

     

    Abdominal pain

    Multiple studies have found that the occurrence of abdominal pain is higher among women. The National Institute of Health states that there is roughly a 3-to-1 female to male ratio in the diagnosis of abdominal pain in the U.S.

     

    Headache

    It is one of the most common pain affecting countless people. A review of more than 60 studies concluded that headaches and migraines prevalent among women far greater than among men. The NIH’s American Migraine Study II, which included over 29,000 adults, found that a one-year migraine prevalence in the U.S. is 7% in men and 18% in women.

     

    Pelvic pain

    The common cause of pelvic pain might be childbirth or physical injury. But a large number of females in the United States experience pelvic pain as a result of a history of intimate partner violence. As per the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), 1 in 4 women in the U.S. have experienced some degree of physical abuse, intimate partner violence, or rape, in contrast to only one in seven men.

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      Pain management and opioid use in women

      When we talk about pain management and opioid use, we can see that men and women are treated differently by the healthcare professionals and the society alike. Here are some of the points that highlight how women receive medical care for their pain management.

      • Women are more likely to get a prescription of opioid pain relievers for chronic pain, and it is often for more extended periods and contains higher doses than men.
      • From the period between 1999 and 2010, there has been a 400% increase in overdose-related deaths from prescription medication among women. Male deaths during the same period have only increased by 265%.
      • Women between the ages of 15 and 44 are more likely to get an opioid mediation prescription. However, several studies suggest that women do not require that many opioid drugs as they show a better response to mu-opioid analgesics such as morphine.
      • Women also tend to become dependent on prescription medication more quickly than men. They also experience a higher degree of craving as compared to men. Despite all this, they are more likely to get a prescription of opioids with other medicines, which increases the risk of overdose.
      • Female veterans have about 79% increased risk of a new depression episode after using opioids for more than 90 days, while male veterans only have a 25% risk.
      • Females are also more likely to have mental health and substance use disorder than men. The substance use interventions and services are developed and tailored to men’s concerns, which makes it difficult for women to get help. Due to the stigma attached to identifying with a substance use disorder, women tend to avoid entering into traditional substance use treatment programs.
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