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Men and Women have Similar Pain Tolerance

Update Date: Sep 10, 2014 03:06 PM EDT

In a new study, researchers examined pain tolerance levels in patients. The team reported that contrary to popular belief, people's ability to adjust to chronic pain is not dependent on their genders. Instead, men and women have very similar tolerance levels.

For this study, the team from Malaga University in Spain set out to question recent findings that suggested that women have a higher pain tolerance than men. The team recruited 400 patients suffering from chronic spinal pain with 190 of them being males and 210 being females. The patients were being treated at primary care centers. The researchers measured pain levels as well as other factors.

They found that the main difference between patients and how they dealt with their chronic pain was level of resilience and not gender. Resilience is defined as having the ability to overcome adverse events. The team reported that people who were more resilient, were more likely to accept their pain and deal with it accordingly.

"More resilient individuals tend to accept their pain, that is, they tend to understand that their ailment is chronic and they stop focusing on trying to get the pain to disappear, to focus their energy on enhancing their quality of life, despite the pain," study author, Carmen Ramírez-Maestre, from the Andalusian institution, told SINC reported by Medical Xpress. "In this regard, patients who are able to accept their pain feel less pain, they are more active on a daily basis and have a better mood".

The team also found that patients who reported experiencing fear alongside their pain had higher levels of anxiety and depression symptoms. The researchers added that they only found a link between fear and a greater degree of pain in male patients. This was the only difference in pain tolerance found between men and women.

The study, "The role of sex/gender in the experience of pain. Resilience, fear and acceptance as central variables in the adjustment of men and women with chronic pain," was published in The Journal of Pain.

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