06:31pm Sunday 12 July 2020

Researchers want us to talk about pain and not suffer in silence

Studies suggest that women often report more pain than men, yet it is unclear whether this is because they feel pain more acutely or because men are more likely to ‘suffer in silence’ and under-report pain.

Pain, including chronic pain such as low back pain, is very common and affects large numbers of people. Estimates suggest that up to 20 per cent of the population will be in pain at any one time and many of these will, as a consequence, experience high levels of distress and disability.

Now researchers from our Centre for Pain Research are urging both men and women to think more about the pain they might be experiencing for research that could lead to better approaches to help people manage pain.

Lead researcher and Deputy Director of the University’s Centre for Pain Research, Dr Ed Keogh, said: “We know that men are generally less likely to visit their GPs, have health checks and live healthy lives when compared to women. We also envisage that men may be more likely to suffer in silence and under-report pain, partly due to embarrassment or reluctance to discuss concerns.

“It might sound obvious, but pain is essentially a message to pay attention to harm that may or may not be taking place in your body – it says – ‘take care’. Men’s reluctance to address pain might have a significant, negative impact on their overall health.

“Part of thinking about men’s health this week must be about breaking down whatever barriers exist that prevent men from seeking help. So, we need to look beyond the idea that pain is a sign of weakness, and ask how men can use pain to stay fit, healthy, and alive for longer”.

As part of the team’s research, they want both men and women to take part in a new online survey that will help them reveal which issues are most relevant when it comes to how we experience pain.

They are looking for men and women aged 18 and over to complete a short, online survey. This asks questions about your experiences of pain, including what you do when you are in pain, as well as about your general health and lifestyle including who you speak to when ill.

The survey, which takes 15 – 20 minutes to complete and is completely anonymous, can be completed via https://bathpain.qualtrics.com/SE/?SID=SV_4ZLEyJ9WlVSZ8zz

To find out more about the Centre for Pain Research, see http://www.bath.ac.uk/pain/ 

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