Pain: What Women Should Know ...................................

Discussion in 'Fibromyalgia Main Forum' started by JLH, Aug 6, 2005.

  1. JLH

    JLH New Member

    Pain: What Women Should Know

    By the National Women’s Health Resource Center

    Most women experience pain at some point—menstrual cramps, headaches, backaches, possibly arthritis. Although most pain can be greatly eased with appropriate medical care, much of it goes untreated, under-treated, or improperly treated. It is not unusual for a woman with chronic pain to be told by her health care professional to “learn to live with it.” But you needn’t. The key to easing pain symptoms is finding a treatment strategy that fits your lifestyle and relieves your pain.

    Pain Basics

    Pain results from a series of exchanges involving your peripheral nerves, a network of nerves in your body, spinal cord, and brain. Most pain serves a purpose. It warns your brain that something is wrong.

    Pain is classified into three major types: acute pain (temporary pain); chronic pain (any constant form of pain); and cancer pain (pain caused by cancer-related diseases or treatments).

    Pain triggered by broken bones and pulled muscles is acute pain; this kind of pain increases blood pressure, heart rate, and rapid breathing, but eventually goes away as the injury that caused it heals.

    Chronic pain doesn’t go away. Pain caused by arthritis and other chronic conditions can interfere with daily life at all levels. Without the right care, it often gets worse, can lead to extreme fatigue and, eventually, to depression and insomnia. About 30 to 50 percent of people with cancer experience pain while undergoing treatment, and 70 to 90 percent of people with advanced cancer experience pain. Cancer pain can be successfully treated in most cases.

    Women and Chronic Pain

    Conditions that cause chronic pain are more common in women than in men. Men and women also respond differently to both pain and pain medications for reasons not completely understood.

    Common causes of chronic pin for women include:

    * Migraine. About one in five women report having migraine headaches. Hormonal changes may be a trigger. Women’s migraines often occur at ovulation and near menstruation. During pregnancy, some women find that their migraines strop, while other women may experience their first migraine. The same is true following menopause.

    * Menstrual pain. Menstrual pain severe enough to interfere with daily activities is known as dysmenorrhea. It is the most common gynecologic problem among menstruating women. There are two types: primary and secondary dysmenorrhea. Primary dysmenorrhea usually starts with the onset of menstruation. Symptoms are severe and frequent menstrual cramping. Secondary dysmenorrhea is caused by a medical condition, such as endometriosis. This type of menstrual pain usually starts after a woman has been menstruating for a while.

    * Arthritis. Women are at higher risk of arthritis-related conditions or joint inflammation than are men. For example, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and lupus occur much more often in women than in men. Researchers believe that female hormones may play a role in these conditions.

    * Fibromyalgia. A condition that causes fatigue and pain in the muscles, joints, ligaments and tendons, fibromyalgia, affects women up to 10 times more frequently than men.

    Managing Pain

    The goal of pain management is to lessen your sense of suffering and, ideally, lower the pain sensation itself. Pain can be a lonely experience, especially when laboratory tests and physical exams don’t pinpoint a cause. People may doubt your pain is real. Pain management uses a variety of skills to help you control your pain and enjoy your life again.

    Medical Approaches

    Each person responds differently to medications and needs different amounts or different types. Talk with your health care professional about your pain medications—over-the-counter as well as prescription medications—and their associated risks and benefits.

    Some of the most commonly used pain medications are:

    * Acetaminophen. Many over-the-counter and prescription pain medications contain acetaminophen. It relieves pain by raising your body’s overall pain threshold.

    * Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Examples include aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen sodium. These medications relieve pain by reducing inflammation (swelling). They can cause stomach upset. If you need to take an NSAID, you might have less stomach upset if you take it with food or milk.

    * COX-2 inhibitors. This newer class of anti-inflammatory analgesic medications is useful for acute and chronic pin. They often cause less stomach upset and fewer gastrointestinal problems than the more traditional NSAIDs; discuss other possible side effects with your health care professional or pharmacist.

    * Narcotics. Some people suffer needlessly because they fear becoming addicted to narcotic medications. But for many people, these drugs can be an important part of therapy. Discuss your concerns with your health care professional or pharmacist.

    * Anti-convulsants, anti-depressants. Drugs that are used to prevent seizures (anti-convulsants) and others used to battle depression (anti-depressants) can also help relieve chronic pain in many people.

    Lifestyle Approaches

    Chronic pain and stress are partners. Stress worsens the pain, and the pain triggers stress signals to the brain. One way to break the cycle can be to use relaxation techniques such as meditation and deep breathing. Complementary and alternative medicine treatments, such as acupuncture, acupressure, and therapeutic massage are frequently recommended in combination with traditional medical treatments for pain relief. Therapeutic heat devices, for example, have been used for centuries to relive pain, especially joint pain. Heating pads and hot compresses are easily available, inexpensive, and generally safe. In addition, ice pads and ice massage can be of significant value in reducing soft tissue pain and spasms.

    It is important that you discuss complementary techniques with your health care professional before trying them.



    American Chronic Pain Association:

    American Pain Foundation:

    National Foundation for the Treatment of Pain:

    National Headache Foundation:

  2. NyroFan

    NyroFan New Member

    What a wonderful post. Thank you for sharing it. I got much out of it.
  3. fivesue

    fivesue New Member

    equal treatment/pain relief for equal pain (or lesser as most docs and men thing.

    And...knowing men, many whine so much when they get a cold or the flu that you'd think they were dying. Anyone else have this experience?

    So, the beat goes on. Don't know the answers, but I really thank you for posting that article.

  4. JLH

    JLH New Member

    one last bump for women who didn't see it
  5. Jeanne-in-Canada

    Jeanne-in-Canada New Member

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