March 4, 2021

Experts claim to apply the gender perspective in the treatment of pain

Specialists in health and patients have called this Tuesday in El Escorial (Madrid) a gender perspective in the approach and treatment of pain, through specific plans that are applied in the pain units of hospitals and primary care.

This is one of the conclusions of the course "Pain and gender perspective, a reality?", Which has concluded at the Summer University of El Escorial, organized by the Spanish Society of Pain (SED), in collaboration with the Grünenthal Foundation and Boston Scientific.

Chronic pain affects around 18 percent of the Spanish population, being one of the diseases that most affects the quality of life, conditioning not only suffering, but with psychological, occupational and social morbidities, and with a high impact on the use of health resources.

Epidemiological studies have shown, as has been shown in the course, that men and women process pain differently and respond differently to treatments. The prevalence of pain in women is almost double that in men.

Dr. Luz Cánovas, head of the Pain Unit of the University Hospital of Ourense and secretary of the course, underlined: "A gender perspective is fundamental in the treatment of chronic pain," and has argued that pain in women "affects to several regions of the brain, it presents more episodes and lasts longer. "

Luz Cánovas has exposed the main conclusion of the course: "A call to all levels, patients, institutions and health professionals to, within the treatment of pain, incorporate the gender perspective by developing plans to be applied in the units of the pain and primary care ".

Dr. María Teresa Ruiz Cantero, of the University Institute of Gender Studies of the University of Alicante, has highlighted the difference between women and men in the expression, perception and assessment of the severity of pain, and has indicated that in the case of women the diagnoses are delayed more.

This doctor has added that there is a gender gap in relation to pain, and has given as an example that the prescription of analgesics, superior in women, ends up hiding and delaying the diagnosis of certain diseases.

Elisa Gallarch, psychologist at the La Fe hospital in Valencia, has established differences in the needs and therapeutic strategies against pain from the psychological point of view.

"Men benefit more from therapeutic strategies focused on behavior, physical exercise or taking drugs, and women adaptive strategies, social support and the management of emotions," he explained.

Although in the pain units, two-thirds of the care is for women and one-third for men, this transfer to psychological therapy consultations reflects a high imbalance, with 80% care for women and 20% for women. men, a fact that this psychologist has exposed.

Isabel Colomina, president of the Spanish Association of Migraine and Headache, a disease that affects women in 83%, has emphasized: "It is necessary to tell women that chronic pain is not normal, that it is the symptom of something, that you have to go to the doctor to diagnose it. "

Colomina has also defended the treatment of pain from a gender perspective, as well as a multidisciplinary approach, and added: "We need understanding from the environment, the health system and health professionals."

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