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Women More Sensitive to Pain Than Men

Blacks and whites have about the same sensitivity to pain, but women appear to be more sensitive to it than men.

That's what Duke University researchers report in the April issue of the Journal of Pain.

"Many pain medications are addictive and have unpleasant side effects, so it's important for physicians to be able to understand exactly how much pain their patients are experiencing," lead researcher and psychologist Dr. Tavis Campbell said in a prepared statement.

He conducted the study while at Duke; he's now at the University of Calgary in Canada.

"This research supports well-established findings of slightly higher sensitivity to pain among women compared to men, but revealed no difference between whites and African-Americans," Campbell said.

Previous research and anecdotal evidence have suggested blacks are more sensitive to pain than whites. Campbell suggested pain assessment procedures may be responsible for such racial differences in pain sensitivity.

His study included 76 men and 59 women aged 25 to 45; 72 were black, the rest white. A blood pressure cuff was inflated on the arm of each study participant and left inflated for several minutes. That created an aching sensation. The participants rated their pain according to standard pain rating scales, which gauge both the intensity and the unpleasantness of the pain.

More information

The Nemours Foundation has more about pain.


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