Public Release: 

Loyola study finds women suffer more neck pain than men

Loyola University Health System

MAYWOOD, Ill. - Women are 1.38 times more likely than men to report neck pain due to cervical degenerative disc disease, according to a study of adult patients treated at Loyola Medicine's Pain Management Center.

The study by Meda Raghavendra, MD and Joseph Holtman, MD, PhD, of Loyola University Medical Center and Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, was presented at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Pain Medicine in Palm Springs, Ca.

The findings add to the growing body of research on the differences in which men and women experience pain. Previous studies have found that females are more likely to be treated at pain clinics for chronic pain and that certain painful conditions, such as migraine headaches and fibromyalgia, are more common in women. Various explanations have been proposed, including hormonal differences and the belief that men may be less willing to report pain.

Cervical degenerative disc disease is a common cause of neck pain. Symptoms include stiff or inflexible neck, burning, tingling and numbness. Pain is most prevalent when the patient is upright or moving the head.

The Loyola study included 3,337 patients who were treated at Loyola's Pain Management Center. Sixty-one percent were female.

Drs. Raghavendra and Holtman conducted a similar study of patients who were treated at Loyola's Pain Management Center for lumbosacral degenerative disc disease (lower back pain). The prevalence in females, 12 percent, was slightly higher than the prevalence in males, 11 percent, but this difference was not statistically significant.

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Dr. Raghavendra is an associate professor and Dr. Holtman is a professor in the Department of Anesthesiology of Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine. Dr. Holtman also is program director of Pain Management.

Loyola's Pain Management Center provides integrated clinical care for the management of acute and chronic pain. The multidisciplinary team includes anesthesiologists, psychologists and pain specialists who work closely with orthopaedic surgeons, neurologists, oncologists, otolaryngologists, gastroenterologists and other specialists to care for patients with a wide array of painful conditions.

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