Study: Women May Feel More Pain Than Men Do

Differences in Pain Perception Seen Across Several Diseases and Painful Conditions

WebMD Health News—January 23, 2012

The question has been around as long as “he said/she said” has been a phrase: Basically, who is more capable of handling pain?

Though not likely to be the final word, new research shows that women may feel pain more intensely than men do, especially for specific types of pain.

Researchers mined electronic medical records from more than 11,000 men and women. They showed that across 47 diseases and painful conditions considered in the study, women said they felt significantly more pain than men in 14 of them.

The difference in pain for women was most pronounced for musculoskeletal pain, such as low back pain and/or osteoarthritis. Researchers also identified gender differences in certain painful conditions for the first time, including acute sinusitis and neck pain.

The findings appear in the Journal of Pain.

Treat the Person, Not the Gender

Michael D. Lockshin, MD, reviewed the findings for WebMD. He is director of the Barbara Volcker Center for Women and Rheumatic Diseases at Hospital for Special Surgery, in New York City.

Differences between men and women may be the result of cultural, hormonal, and/or anatomical issues, he says. At the end of the day, it is not the “why” that matters: “A person’s pain report is not something physicians should be making judgments about. We need to accept the idea that what patients are reporting is real and respond accordingly. Pain is an invisible and subjective symptom,” he says.

Read the full story at webmd.com.

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