Affecting anywhere from 50 to 70 percent of the population at one time or another, neck pain can affect anyone. A new study on degenerative neck pain, caused by a general wear and tear of the discs cushioning the cervical spine, however, concludes that women are more likely to suffer from and report this type of neck pain than their male counterparts.
Differences in How Pain is Experienced
The fact that women are nearly twice as likely to report neck pain than men doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with a difference in attitudes about pain. It may be more about how pain is experienced, according to Chicago researchers. While there is no conclusive reason for the discrepancy, hormonal differences may be partly responsible.
Pain Interpretation and Treatment
It only stands to reason if someone isn’t experiencing significant pain, or if they don’t consider their pain all that severe, they won’t seek treatment. According to Los Angeles spine surgeons, the difference in the perception of pain may also explain why women are more likely to be treated for some chronic pain conditions, including migraine headaches and fibromyalgia, a condition affecting muscles and soft tissue that results in widespread pain and fatigue.
Knowing When to Seek Treatment
If anything, the results of this and previous studies on how pain is experienced emphasize the importance of early detection and treatment. Even when symptoms seem minor, taking steps to identify an accurate source of neck pain may reduce the risk of experiencing more substantial or persistent discomfort later. As a general rule, it’s a good idea to see a doctor when:
- Neck pain radiates to shoulders, arms, and fingers
- There’s accompanying headache and dizziness
- Pain slowly gets more intense and persistent
- Overall quality of life is clearly affected
The process of diagnosing neck pain includes asking patients to describe their pain since how any one person interprets pain is highly subjective. It is, however, important for both men and women to be mindful of factors like sleeping positions and poor posture that often contribute to neck pain and to pay attention to symptoms that could indicate a need for medical attention.
If you are living each day with neck pain and would like to learn more about how to minimize or relieve the pain, reach out to Dr. Hyun Bae, Medical Director of The Spine Institute Center for Spinal Restoration. We are a leader in minimally invasive neck surgery that helps provide short- and long-term relief. Call (310) 828-7757 today and schedule an in-person consultation.