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Are women being ignored?
In a fascinating report from the Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics (Vol. 29, pp. 13-27, 2001) by Diane Hoffmann and Dr. Anita Tarzian, the thought-provoking question of the biological, cognitive and emotional experience of pain, and subsequent treatment, experienced by men and women is raised.
For a better overview of the article content, the abstract of ‘The Girl Who Cried Pain: A Bias Against Women in the Treatment of Pain’ is included below:
In general, women report more severe levels of pain, more frequent incidences of pain, and pain of longer duration than men, but are nonetheless treated for pain less aggressively. The authors investigate this paradox from two perspectives: Do men and women in fact experience pain differently - whether biologically, cognitively, and/or emotionally? And regardless of the answer, what accounts for the differences in the pain treatment they receive, and what can we do to correct this situation?
It would make sense, according to the report’s findings, to treat greater incidences of pain accordingly, however women, on the whole, receive significantly lower doses of post-operation painkillers. A separate AIDS-related pain study revealed that by comparison to the male patients, women were undermedicated despite recording slightly higher pain levels.
Is it a question of sensitivity to pain or a cultural acceptance for women to talk about pain openly and expressively? On the whole, studies have revealed that women are more susceptible to tension headaches or migraines, temporomandibular disorders in the jaw joint or jaw muscles, endometriosis, frozen shoulders or post-breast cancer surgery shooting pains, arthritis, and fibromyalgia, a condition marked by fatigue and muscle and join aches. Back pain, an exception to the rule, appears to be suffered equally across the board, yet the extension of the pain to a stiff and painful shoulder indicates once again slightly higher figures for women. Irritable bowel syndrome, frozen shoulder syndrome or carpal tunnel syndrome are also common causes for chronic pain amongst women.