Have chronic pain? Advocate for yourself
Chronic pain is pain that lasts beyond “normal” healing time, sometimes for several months. It can be limited to one part of the body (such as a migraine) or can be widespread (such as fibromyalgia). Chronic pain can disrupt every day tasks and activities, and can make it difficult to be productive at work, manage tasks at home, or spend time with friends and family.
According to a recent article in The Washington Post, women are more likely to experience delays in chronic pain diagnosis and treatment. Compared to men, women are much more likely to receive prescriptions for sedatives instead of pain medication – especially when the source of the pain wasn’t obvious. Research shows that women’s pain is often less thoroughly investigated by doctors, and that women – on average – waited 16 minutes longer to receive medication for pain than men did. For African American women, the differences are even more striking, and they were 22% less likely than white women to get pain medication from their doctors.
Studies show that these differences in treatment are often due to a doctor’s stereotypes about pain tolerance and likelihood the abuse prescription painkillers. Knowing this, it’s important that women be their own health advocates and actively push for better, more thorough treatment. One way to do this is to prepare for each doctor’s ahead of time by following the steps below:
- Write down your questions. Visiting your doctor can often be overwhelming and rushed, so it’s important to write down the questions you need answered.
- Be prepared. Don’t forget to bring any relevant x-rays or CT scans that could help with your diagnosis.
- Communicate concerns. Tell your doctor what activities your pain is preventing you from doing. This will help them better understand the severity of your pain.