"One in four Americans - 75 million people - live in chronic, debilitating pain. In fact, pain affects more Americans than diabetes, heart disease and cancer combined. Here are some steps you can take to get relief.
What is pain?
The early Greeks and Romans advanced the idea that the brain played a role in producing the perception of pain. In the 19th century, physician-scientists discovered that opiates such as morphine could relieve pain and chemist Felix Hoffmann developed aspirin from a substance in willow bark. Aspirin remains the most commonly used pain reliever today.
In 1994, the International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP) defined pain as an "unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage."
According to a survey by the National Center for Health Statistics (2006), 26% of adults experienced pain lasting more than 24 hours in the month prior, and 10% experienced the same pain for a year or more. Pain requires particular attention in infants and children since they are not always able to describe the type, degree, or location of pain they are experiencing.
The truth about women and pain
Pain is a regular, if unwelcome, reality for many women, perhaps even more than it is for men, and yet, according to the American Pain Foundation, they are often undertreated. Most women have pain with menstruation at some point in their lives, and childbirth can be painful. Some common disorders of the female reproductive tract are painful. Also, painful autoimmune diseases are much more common in women. To cope with their pain, women tend to use more approaches than men, such as learning about their condition, turning to others for support, and finding ways to relax more and manage stress.
Still, it can be hard for a woman to get help for her pain. Some doctors are less likely to give women painkillers because they think that women overstate the amount of pain they feel. Studies have shown that given the same amount of pain, men are less likely to report it than women. Men might feel they need to "tough it out." But this doesn't mean that the pain women are reporting isn't real. ..."
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