A new study recently published reveals just how important gender is in actually feeling pain. The study foudn that in trial sessions with mice, male and female counterparts felt different pains differently. Meaning, while male mice didn’t feel some pain – female mice actually felt other pain, and the trend worked out both ways. The study was published in the publication called, Nature Neuroscience, and dove into how treatments could actually benefit in the long-term from this type of study.
The researchers focused on looking at microglia, which is an immune cell that determines the “volume,” or strength of pain. In doing so, the team found that it varies wildly by gender, on various things. For example, the study found that women are more likely to experience that pain, than men, and in doing so can begin developing answers and treatments for the 100 million people impacted by chronic pain.
However, while the microglia was a focus of the study, it was determined that it wasn’t at the absolute root of the cause. However, the disconnect wasn’t a disappointment. The team pointed out that, “It’s actually more clinically relevant than the one we’ve been studying, given that the majority of chronic pain patients are women and that we know nothing about it at all.”
Jeff Mogil, who co-authored the study pointed out that this was significant. He said, “This hadn’t been reported before because no one ever used females, so they weren’t in a position to know one way or another.” It’s an impressive find that is significant for a host of reasons, but the diagnosing reasons are by far the most significant.
This gives medical professionals a little more research to base further research on in the pain space. Specifically, scientists are going to have to start working hard now to identify what the biological element is that actually causes pain, and how it can be managed in different genders. While men might experience it one way, women could potentially experience it another way completely, or not experience it at all.
Studies like this are necessary for expanding and diversifying our knowledge base in the medical space. There are a lot of underlying factors to consider, and the more information we can maintain, the better off we’ll be as an industry working to make people healthier and happier. This is especially the case with chronic pain, which is notoriously one of the most difficult things to manage in all of the medical community.