APA: Gender Differences Exist in Chronic Pain

Chronic pain is more common in women, who experience it more intensely and for longer periods
By Beth Gilbert
HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, Aug. 13 (HealthDay News) -- Women are more likely to experience chronic pain than men, and they generally experience it for longer periods of time, more frequently, and more intensely than men, according to research presented at the annual convention of the American Psychological Association, held from Aug. 12 to 15 in San Diego.

Jennifer F. Kelly, Ph.D., of the Atlanta Center for Behavioral Medicine, outlined gender differences in chronic pain, discussing how chronic pain affects a higher proportion of women than men. She noted that conditions that affect more women than men include fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, temporomandibular joint disorder, chronic pelvic pain, and migraine.

According to Kelly, women are more likely than men to experience multiple painful conditions at the same time, which may result in increased psychological distress and a higher risk of disability. She emphasized that chronic pain generally lasts longer in women than in men, pain is more severe in women, and women are likely to experience more recurrent pain. Hormones may be responsible for gender differences in pain perception, Kelly said, and advocated cognitive coping strategies.

"If women can see the pain as something that can be managed and something that they can work with, then they can make more positive modifications in their life and become more functional," Kelly added.

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