Women report feeling more pain than men

A Stanford Medical Center study found women report feeling more pain than men do on a variety of common ailments including back and neck injuries, digestive problems and sinus infections. In a Stanford news release one of the authors said part of the reason women reported much higher levels of pain could be because men simply don’t want to admit how much pain they experience.”

“New research from Stanford University suggests that even when men and women have the same condition – whether it’s a back problem, arthritis or a sinus infection — women appear to suffer more from the pain,” the New York Times “Well” blog adds.

The study, published in The Journal of Pain, analyzes data from the electronic medical records of 11,000 patients whose pain scores were recorded as a routine part of their care.”

According to the study, “for 21 of 22 ailments with sample sizes large enough to make a meaningful comparison, the researchers found that women reported higher levels of pain than men.”

On its front page, the San Francisco Chronicle reports, “The study being released today found that when asked to rate their pain on a scale of 0 to 10 – with 0 being no pain at all, and 10 being the worst pain imaginable – women on average scored their pain 20 percent more intense than men.”

What more, “the results held up across a wide variety of diseases and injuries, including back and neck pain, digestive disorders, sinus infections, and even ankle strains and sprains.”

But “the fact that women report more pain overall doesn’t necessarily mean they have more or less tolerance to pain than men,” study lead author Dr. Atul Butte said.

“Authors cautioned that this study cannot determine whether pain is actually experienced more intensely by women or whether women simply communicate better with their health care providers about pain,” ABC News points out. “But many other medical experts are skeptical about the Stanford study” since “the authors didn’t account for the possibility that if many women had additional diseases that caused pain, it could actually be the other diseases, and not their gender, which is responsible for the women having more pain than men.”

Dr. Lloyd Saberski, medical director of the Advanced Diagnostic Pain Treatment Centers at Yale University, said, “It’s a flawed study.”

CBS News reports that “since the data were self-reported, the explanation may be that women more readily report pain than men do.”

Another explanation for the difference may be that “since nurses often take these records, men may have been more reluctant to admit their pain to female nurses. Or the difference may be hormonal.”

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