Women at higher risk of feeling chronic pain

A new work of the Cardiovascular, Nutritional, and Aging Epidemiology group published in the ‘Mayo Clinic Proceedings’ magazine reports a higher risk of chronic pain in women than in men.

Woman covering her face with her hands.

Woman covering her face with her hands. / Photo: Pexels - Reference image

The Woman Post | Luisa Fernanda Báez Toro

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Leer en español: Mujeres tienen mayor riesgo de sentir dolores crónicos

As read on 20 Minutos, chronic pain, which is defined as pain on most days, is a growing public health problem, particularly in older adults, affecting 60% of the elderly. Some risk factors for pain include low physical activity, excess weight, poor sleep quality, chronic diseases and limitations in physical function.

This has a great influence on the health of the elderly, because it reduces physical activity and increases the risk of frailty, falls, physical disability and cognitive impairment.

The consequences of chronic pain are multiple, according to the Mayo Clinic article: it affects sleep (42.2%), produces anxiety (40.6%), favors the onset of depression (24.4%) and it has been found that up to 53% of people with severe pain have to limit their social activities.

Authors also noted that "excess risk in women was limited to the most severe forms of pain, including a higher number of localizations and impact on daily activities, possibly because, compared with men, women experience greater unpleasantness with pain, suffer more comorbid pain conditions, and are more likely to develop disability from the same pain condition."

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The paper shows that higher frequency of some chronic diseases, a worse functional state, psychological stress, and less physical activity can explain why older women are at risk of pain.

In the words of Esther García Esquinas, principal investigator of the work, "almost one in four women who did not suffer from chronic pain initially developed high-intensity pain during follow-up", reports El Médico Interactivo.

Julián Álvarez Escudero, president of the Spanish Society of Anesthesiology, Resuscitation, and Therapeutic Pain, in the case of pathologies that are associated with chronic pain, "the diagnosis is delayed in women compared to men", writes Cuídate Plus.

He also noted that when treating chronic pain in women, there is a tendency to over-treat with analgesics, which can lead to not being prescribed drugs that are really curative or, at least, control the pathology. Also, there is a disease called fibromyalgia that primarily affects women and causes widespread pain in muscles.

Finally, it is estimated that three out of 10 people in Latin America live with chronic pain, so the World Health Organization (WHO) has indicated that treatment of this condition should be recognized as an integral part of the right to physical and mental health, says Siete 24.

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