Last week was International Day of the Girl, an annual event which supports more opportunity for girls and increases awareness of gender inequality. This got us thinking at Core Clapton about why we see, on average, twice as many women as men. Is it because they are more open about seeking help for pain and disability? Do they have a lower pain threshold than men? Or is being a women (and we should add all the other genders here too) simply more stressful due to gender bias and inequality?
What is Pain?
The International Association for the Study of Pain considers pain to be ‘an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage or described in terms of such damage.’ Whilst chronic pain is defined by the NHS as persistent pain that carries on for longer than three months.
Women are three times more likely to suffer from chronic pain than men. They may also be more likely to suffer from health problems such as osteoporosis, irritable bowel syndrome and temporomandibular disorder (a condition which affects the movement of the jaw); but why is this the case?
A susceptible biological profile?
Studies have shown that some women respond with pain to lower intensity stimuli than men and that some disorders show female prevalence. This caused scientists to suggest that perhaps women have a biological profile that makes them more susceptible to experiencing pain and therefore having a disproportionate amount of clinical pain to their male counterparts.
Experts in the pain science field theorise that the difference in pain prevalence amongst males and females could be due to a variety of factors ranging from body size, skin thickness and blood pressure to social expectations, cognitive variation and mental health. This implies that physical tissue damage is not the only cause of the pain we feel. It also lends weight to the argument that sex differences should be considered by healthcare practitioners when investigating a client’s pain; does pain present itself differently in their male to female patients and could their diagnosis then differ? The more we learn about pain, the more complex an idea it becomes necessitating more research and a more diverse approach to the treatment of it.
Reaching out for help
Although the above may seem daunting, it is interesting to note that women are also more likely to seek professional advice. With relevant treatment from a qualified practitioner your symptoms can be reduced alongside the pain you may experience, helping to facilitate your day to day life. Here at Core Clapton, we want to encourage women and men to continue asking for help when they are dealing with pain. Our clinic welcomes everyone and takes the time to truly understand the pain you are feeling then devise a treatment plan specifically tailored to your needs.
Call 0300 5610 161 to speak to one of osteopaths.