Women frequently present to GPs with persistent, often multiple complaints of pain. Consultations can be challenging, so recognising the many facets of the pain problem and formulating a comprehensive approach to assessment and management may ease the pain for all affected women.
- Women report a higher incidence of pain conditions, multiple pain sites and pain-related disability than men.
- A higher incidence of anxiety and depression is observed in women and this exacerbates persistent pain conditions.
- Sex and gender differences have been demonstrated in nociceptive pathways, endogenous opioid systems, cognitive appraisal of pain and social acceptability of pain complaints.
- Visceral pain syndromes are common but are often hidden causes of persistent pain in women.
- A biopsychosocial approach to pain management leads to better outcomes.
- Oestrogen and progesterone play important roles in pain modulation and can be manipulated as part of the pain management strategy.