Thursday, January 31, 2013

Pain Relief Methods Differ For Men And Women

March 11, 2011 by  
Filed under Joint Pain Causes

chronic joint painNo one knows why women not only feel pain more sharply than men, but experience it in much higher numbers.

Significant differences exist in the way the bodies and minds of men and women process pain. We have all heard women say that the male species would cease to be if men instead of women were responsible for having babies.

It is widely believed that women are unable to tolerate pain as well as men. So do women have more chronic pain? The fact that women experience arthritis, migraine, and other chronic joint pain conditions to a larger extent than men may help explain this low-pain threshold in women.Physical, psychological, and cultural variables all affect how an individual reacts to pain, making it an extremely complex phenomenon to unravel. Thus, the reason for why women have a more intense reaction to pain remains clouded in mystery. Women not only experience the sensation of physical pain differently than men, they also deal with chronic pain differently. This means that the treatments for pain that will help women the most will very likely not be the same treatments that prove effective for men.

The fact that men and women have different bodies may provide an explanation. For example, male and female sex hormones may evoke a difference response to pain. Psychological differences between men and women may also be a factor. For example, while women tend to focus on the impact pain will have on their lives; men pay more attention to the immediate physical sensation of pain.

Different areas of the brain respond to the same pain stimulus based on who is receiving it. For men, it is the cognitive and analytical areas of the brain; for women, it is the brain’s emotional centers. The differences in how men and women cope with chronic pain may prove to be significant since how much pain an individual feels depends on the ways in which they cope with it.  Women,is for example, will seek out family and friends to discuss the effects their pain is having on them.

Women tend to have more constructive coping strategies than men do when it comes to pain management. They seek out treatment for their pain a lot sooner than men and have a much larger and more diverse social network. A large social network means more people to call on for help when women are in pain. Even with these differences, the medical establishment is not as adept as it should be in tailoring pain treatments to fit the distinctive needs of women and men. In fact, women more than men, tend to receive poor assessments and treatments from their health care providers.

In addition to reacting differently to pain, women and men do not respond the same to the same pain medications. Women, for example, suffer from more side effects than men do, a fact doctors need to be aware of when prescribing pain medication for women. Unfortunately, many doctors continue to use the standard of how a 150-pound man will react to a pain medication, regardless of whether the prescription is for a man or a woman. More clinical trials need to be performed on pre and post-menopausal women to determine how each group reacts to pain medication.

Women may respond more positively to treatments that do not involve prescription drugs, such as cognitive behavior therapy, the goal of which is to help the individual cope better with pain by changing the way they think about it. Women need to be empowered to advocate for themselves with respect to how they experience pain, as well as the ways in which it affects their lives so that they can work in partnership with health care providers to find solutions and treatments that are designed specifically for them.

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- Eric

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