November 13, 2019

2 separate studies show that women suffering from fibromyalgia are not seeking appropriate treatment

We have all heard the old adage that men are from mars and women are from Venus.  It is true that men and women may approach some things very differently.  One of the areas that these gender differences exist in is in how men and women deal with pain associated with a chronic condition.  I was amazed this week when I came across two wholly unrelated articles discussing how women, who are more likely to suffer from a painful condition such as fibromyalgia, are also much more likely to dismiss their pain and not seek a proper diagnosis or treatment.  There were a variety of reasons as to why they did not seek medical advice about their pain; however, one common thread seemed to be that they felt they would not be taken seriously by a professional and that they could manage it on their own.  It seems that it is important for women to recognize that pain, especially chronic pain like that associated with fibromyalgia, is a medical condition, not simply a state of mind.

One of the articles, from the Black Women’s Health Alliance and detailed on PRNewswire, discussed a study conducted in Pennsylvania which found that many of the state’s women suffered from chronic pain but did not seek help for it.  Specifically, the study found that two-thirds of Pennsylvania women suffer from chronic pain, and over half of them do not seek treatment for their pain, even when it is so severe that they have trouble completely daily tasks or working.  When asked why they would not get treated, a majority of the women stated it was because they felt that insurance companies would not cover treatment for pain, unlike more traditional conditions, such as heart disease.  Additionally, the women felt that the pain was not something to worry about and that it could be handled privately.

The other article, from Pain Medicine News, discussed how twice as many women as men feel that they are not being taken seriously when they complain about their pain.  This perceived lack of sympathy often causes these women to refrain from seeking medical treatment even though their condition often impairs their daily activities and work environment/ability to work.  What is even more troubling is that fibromyalgia impacts seven times more women than men, so not only are more women not seeking help for their pain, but more women are suffering from a serious chronic condition and are not seeking help!  Fortunately, some researchers, medical writers, and health professionals have launched a website, , to address these issues and educate women on fibromyalgia and pain management.  It provides references for doctors who specialize in treating fibromyalgia and how women can fully engage in their daily lives.

Knowing that this painful condition we call fibromyalgia is real and not something to be taken lightly is the first step to getting the necessary treatment.  Once you know what you are dealing with, you can then take the necessary steps to get the right therapy for you, file for social security disability benefits if you can no longer work due to your condition, and generally manage your life better.  Although men and women are very different, this type of chronic pain can impact us all the same.  It is important to seek help and educate yourself so that you can live the healthiest life possible.

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