St. Mark's Hospital - March 18, 2019

If you’ve suffered from throbbing headaches that won’t quit or persistent aches that hijack your joints, just surviving the day can be challenging and exhausting. Recurring pain not only limits what you can do, but it can also make you feel angry, scattered and depressed.

Chronic pain affects both sexes, but women experience pain differently than men. Numerous studies have shown that women tend to feel pain more often and more intensely than men. Scientists don’t know why, but they suspect biology and hormones play a role.

Though many more women than men have chronic pain conditions like fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis and migraines, most pain studies have been done with men. As a result, women with chronic pain are more likely to be misdiagnosed or undertreated.

Where to Find Relief

Start with your doctor.

Be direct about your level of pain. If you feel your concerns aren’t being addressed, ask questions or get a second opinion.

Seek support.

Connect with a support group or friends who understand how you feel and will listen when you need to vent. Ask for tips from others who have your condition.

Be smart about medication.

Work with your doctor to find the best pain medication. Be careful using opioids. Women may be more susceptible to becoming addicted to these powerful drugs. Don’t stop your medication regimen without talking to your doctor, since doing so can have dangerous side effects.

Explore alternative therapies.

Stress increases muscle tension which can intensify pain. Try activities that relax you, such as deep breathing, meditation or practices like yoga or tai chi. Biofeedback, acupuncture and exercise can also help.