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Do Men And Women Feel Pain Differently: A New Study Might Have An Answer And More Questions
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Do Men And Women Feel Pain Differently: A New Study Might Have An Answer And More Questions

A new study set to be published in the Journal of Pain will look at the ongoing debate of whether there is a real or perceived disparity in levels of pain and pain perception between men and women. That study, conducted by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine is the largest of its kind and is one of the first to try to determine how perception of pain differs between the genders but not why.

Dr. Atul Butte, the senior author of the study is also an Associate Professor at the Stanford University School of Medicine. Dr. Butte thinks that the study was important because pain perception and ratings could potentially help doctors determine when a drug is working or not. It can also play a role in helping doctors learn how to approach patients who are in pain in the right way.

The study looked at the medical records of over seventy thousand patients, including 160,000 pain scores within over 250 primary diagnoses. The research team then narrowed those records down to 11,000 patients and pain scores which had been recorded as part of the overall medical care. The greatest disparity in pain perception came within patients who had been diagnosed with problems in certain categories including: musculoskeletal, circulatory, respiratory and digestive system disorders. In addition, doctors found that there were gender differences in the perception of pain related to acute sinusitis.

Women usually reported that the pain they were experiencing was one point higher than men on an eleven point scale. Two different pain scales were used in the research, a verbal scale that was self reported by the patients as well as a non verbal rating given by an external observer. However, the records that were studied by the research team did not indicate who made the designation for the pain rating.

Women tend to seek medical help more often or sooner than men do but are also more expressive with their symptoms, including pain. A number of factors can influence how the pain is felt and how it is expressed, even within the same gender, according to Dr. Butte. For instance, the woman's menstrual cycle frequently played a role in how intensely she felt pain. The gender of the doctor could also play a role in how much pain was felt or reported. In addition, Dr. Butte found that women tended to feel pain in a more diffuse way while men focused on one area of discomfort.


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