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Men, Women Respond Differently to Pain

From eNewsletter 8/5/2019

DID YOU KNOW that men and women differ in the way they respond to pain and that biological, psychological, and sociological factors all contribute?


Estrogen vs. Testosterone When taking a look at the biological effects, testosterone has one that is both pain inhibiting and protective. This makes sense when we look at the statistics showing how men are significantly less likely to report chronic widespread pain or any pain at all. By contrast, estrogen and progesterone have more complex pain effects, both hormones exerting inhibiting and promoting effects in different situations. Culture Men tend to use behavioral distractions or tackle the situation head-on with problem solving techniques while women draw on social support systems and emotion-based techniques. Anticipating Pain: Pain and Memory Painful experiences can create indelible memories in which fear and avoidance become attached to the memory. If the source of pain recurs, a heightened sensitivity response is produced. Typically, this process is driven by high estrogen levels and so is found in women disproportionately to men. However, there is a type of hypersensitization to pain that has been found to occur only in men. The phenomenon is associated with stress cues that trigger a physiological adrenal stress response that is dependent on testosterone. It is thought to possibly play a role in the development of PTSD in men. Theory of Chronic Pain The disparity in chronic pain syndromes between men and women is significant, with men accounting for only 30% of reported instances. The pathway to chronic pain involves repeated initiation of an inflammatory response in reaction to a painful injury, leading to a cascade of effects that amplify and perpetuate pain messages. In men this occurs through cells known as microglia, that are located only in the brain and spinal cord, while in women the blood-borne T-cells perform this function. Another contributor to chronic pain is sleep quality, which is intricately intertwined as a causative as well as exacerbating factor. On this account, men are also less susceptible as they are considerably less likely than women to experience insomnia at all age ranges, except for their 20's. Additionally, a genetic component to chronic pain is at play. Recently, a segment of genes were found on the X chromosome, which men have only one of, that are often present in women with chronic musculoskeletal pain.


EASY SUMMER RECIPE: CHICKEN SALAD STUFFED AVOCADOS OR TOMATOES

- 2 cups rotisserie chicken, chopped or chilled

- 1/2 cup fresh mango, chopped

- 1/4 cup celery, chopped

- 1/4 cup scallions, chopped

- 1/4 cup olive oil mayonnaise

- 1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

- dash of white pepper

- dash of salt

- dash of paprika, optional

- 4 avocado halves OR 4 large beefsteak tomatoes

Mix first eight ingredients. Core tomatoes or remove pits from avocados and stuff.

SERVES: 4

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