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Chronic Pain in Women

On February 15, 2012, there was a hearing on Capitol Hill about “Pain in America: Exploring Challenges to Relief”. The cost of chronic pain exceeds $600 billion each year, which is more than cancer, heart disease and diabetes combined according to the Institute of Medicine report published last year. Women make up the vast majority of the nation’s 116 million chronic pain sufferers. The definition of chronic pain is pain that is defined as lasting several months or more. Chronic pain may arise from an injury such as a car accident or from a chronic condition such as diabetes, cancer, or arthritis to name only a few conditions. Often, women suffer from fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndromes and chronic headaches or jaw pain. These ailments are a lot more prevalent in women than in men. Migraine headaches are three times more common in women than in men. Women are more likely than men to have a number of different pain conditions. According to the International Association for the Study of Pain, women are one and a half times more likely to suffer from headaches or neck, shoulder, knee or back pain, twice as likely to suffer oral or facial pain, three times more likely to have migraines and four times more likely to suffer from fibromyalgia.

Despite this, pain in women is often undertreated. Gender bias in the way doctors manage pain in women is that women are less likely to be treated for their pain and the treatment they do receive is less aggressive than in men.

Medical experts have speculated about the reasons why women experience pain and respond to pain medication differently than men. They are the following:

  • Sex hormones – Female hormones can cause changes of the chemicals in the brain that intensify pain sensations.
  • Brain Structure and chemistry – Researchers have found that women’s pain processors in the brain show greater activity than in men during episodes of pain.
  • Biological differences – Women tend to experience more pain due to their biology.
  • Societal conditioning and gender roles – Some doctors believe women report pain more often because society teaches them to be more expressive than men.


We at the Edward A Smith Law Offices understand your chronic pain after a terrible accident. We are specialists in this area. We believe that chronic pain is real and we will send you to the right doctors so that you do not suffer.

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