Pain management in women is often overlooked and ineffective for a variety of conditions ranging from back pain to postsurgery cancer pain, according to the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA). In response, the ASA has issued the Women’s Pain Update, in the hopes of raising awareness of available treatment options, as well as the role a pain medicine specialist can play in treating chronic and acute pain.
The ASA conducted a literature review of peer-reviewed studies related to women and pain that were published in 2014. According to Donna-Ann Thomas, MD, a member of ASA’s Committee on Pain Medicine, many women have been suffering in silence for years.
“I can’t tell you the number of women I see who have been told they just have to live with the pain,” said Dr. Thomas in a press release, regarding women who come to her with sciatica pain. “It’s just heart breaking because many of these women have been suffering a long time. Women—especially older women—are less likely to speak up and seek treatment for their pain.”
The ASA suggests that patients who plan on seeking treatment from a specialist find physicians who are certified in a pain medicine subspecialty by the American Board of Medical Specialties.
Key findings from the ASA study report included the following:
• Women who received a nerve block with regional anesthesia during breast cancer surgery reported less postsurgery pain nausea and vomiting, and less morphine use than women who had general anesthesia.
• Women reported more postsurgery pain than men for 30 different types of surgery, ranging from appendectomy to knee replacement.
• There are no sex differences in the amount of fibromyalgia pain reported, but men are more likely to avoid activity to avoid pain.
• One in seven women are prescribed opioids while pregnant.
• Music eases labor pains, yoga relieves back pain and rose oil eases menstrual pain.
Studies Reviewed by the ASA
Maeda A, Bateman BT, Clancy CR, et al. Opioid abuse and dependence during pregnancy: temporal trends and obstetrical outcomes. Anesthesiology. 2014;121(6):1158-1165.
Simavli S, Gumus I, Kaygusuz I, et al. Effect of music on labor pain relief, anxiety level and postpartum analgesic requirement: a randomized controlled clinical trial. Gynecol Obstet Invest.2014;78(4):244-250.
Abdallah FW, Morgan PJ, Cil T, et al. Ultrasound-guided multilevel paravertebral blocks and total intravenous anesthesia improve the quality of recovery after ambulatory breast tumor resection.Anesthesiology. 2014;120(3):703-713.
Gerbershagen HJ, Pogatzki-Zahn E, Aduckathil S, et al. Procedure-specific risk factor analysis for the development of severe postoperative pain. Anesthesiology. 2014;120(5):1237-1245.
Sadeghi Aval Shahr H, Saadat M, et al. The effect of self-aromatherapy massage of the abdomen on the primary dysmenorrhoea. J Obstet Gynaecol. 2014 Sept 25. [Epub ahead of print]
Lee M, Moon W, Kim J. Effect of yoga on pain, brain-derived neurotrophic factor, and serotonin in premenopausal women with chronic low back pain. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med.2014;2014:203173.
Racine M, Castarlenas E, de la Vega R, et al. Sex differences in psychological response to pain in patients with fibromyalgia syndrome. Clin J Pain. 2014 Oct 17.
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