Women in Pain: Tell Us How You Feel

Women in Pain: Tell Us How You Feel

Are you a woman with chronic pain?

Do you feel you are treated differently by doctors because you are a woman?

Do you feel doctors take your pain less seriously because you are a woman?

Those are some of questions National Pain Report is asking in our latest online survey, which can be found here. We’ve partnered with the Los Angeles-based non-profit For Grace to better assess and document the issues faced by women in chronic pain.

bigstock-Woman-Depressed-Series-27254924Studies have shown that women suffer disproportionally from chronic pain and are more sensitive to pain than men, but also tend to be undertreated.

“In the U.S. and across the globe, women are second-class citizens, and as such, our chronic pain is often undertreated or worse, dismissed. One way to reverse this troubling trend is through awareness and information gathering,” said Cynthia Toussaint, a pain sufferer, patient advocate and founder of For Grace, an organization devoted to promoting better care and wellness for women in pain.

“We are proud to be partnering with the National Pain Report on this critical survey to place women in pain in the spotlight and to provide them a platform to share their stories with the media,” said Toussaint, who has lived with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome for over 30 years.

Some of the survey questions are personal in nature — dealing with issues like menopause, menstrual cycles and childhood trauma — but all of the answers will be collected anonymously and will be kept confidential. We do not share names or email addresses with anyone without your permission.

The link between childhood trauma and chronic pain is a controversial one. Many women resent being told by physicians that there may be a connection because it suggests their pain is “all in their head.”

“Multiple studies across independent research groups shows that experiencing childhood trauma or abuse is a major risk factor for acquiring chronic pain later in life,” said Beth Darnall, PhD, a pain psychologist and author of Less Pain, Fewer Pills. “The experience of major stress can lead to changes in the immune and nervous systems, and these can create a vulnerability to develop pain later following a physical injury or emotional trauma, such as a car accident or surgery.

Trauma and abuse are also linked to depression, which in turn is a predictor for the development of chronic pain.  Scientifically, there is no debate about whether trauma and abuse associate with chronic pain — they do. However, we cannot say that trauma and abuse cause chronic pain because causal studies do not exist.”

Results from the Women in Pain survey will be presented at For Grace’s 7th Annual Women in Pain Conference in Los Angeles on September 12th and on the National Pain Report.

In previous online surveys we asked readers how they are treated by their healthcare providers and to rate the effectiveness of fibromyalgia drugs.

While we appreciate feedback from everyone, for the Women in Pain survey we are only interested in responses from women.

If you would like to take the survey, click here.

Authored by: Pat Anson, Editor

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I’d like to urge all who have steadily increasing chronic pain and multiple issues but especially spinal ones (degenerative disc disease,arthritis, etc. – any of them) to look into Ehlers-Danlos Sydnrome, a vastly underdiagnosed genetic collagen defect that is often written off as “just depression”. Yet it is systemic, so ends up affecting us from head to toe (bad teeth, eyes, feet, GI tract, varicose veins, hernias, prolapses, plus the more obvious joint subluxations and dislocations, migraines, more). It also comes with an unbelievable array of secondary comorbidities including allergies and all forms of auto-immune disorders. Please look into it on behalf of yourselves and your families. It’s defo not all in your head! And it’s no longer truly rare, just rarely diagnosed esp in milder forms. (It takes 10 years on average to get diagnosed – it took me 25, no kidding.) Most with fibromyalgia likely have it, but only find out after becoming “triggered” by a trauma like a car accident, or serious viral illness. Learn more: http://ohtwist.wordpress.com

Sue Phagan

I have chronic pain. I have bone on bone at L5S1 (am an inch shorter). Four of my neck vertebrae are compromised and need injections. I have bad arthritis all over body but hands and feet are agony. My fingers are crooked and swollen at joints. And, last but not least, I have had a Rheumatologist diagnose me with fibromyalgia quite some time ago. Every pressure point is so sore. I have a good pain doctor. With medications, some physical therapy to help build up muscle that has weakened, injections in facets of neck and back, and a cream from a lab in Florida from a compounding pharmacy, I am managing, some days more than others. I have a sympathetic husband so I can stay in bed or do whatever it takes to get easy. My IBS is always present. . I take a probiotic for that. A sense of humor is a plus.


My daughter has HEDS and also has pain constantly from dislocations. She has reported to the ER that her pain is level 10 and been told that it wasn’t possible because she was not crying or passed out from the pain. My daughter has been told she is not ‘old’ enough to have the joint issues and pain she experiences. ER people have dismissed her ‘claims’ of dislocation and warned me that I should not ‘listen to her nonsense’. School personnel are the worst though. They all dismissed her pain, even to the point of refusing to let her leave class and go to the nurse’s office for ice packs or to call me to come and get her, despite there being medical directions to the opposite which I made sure each and every one of them had received the documents. We finally had to remove her from public school and enroll her in online. Sooo frustrating.


I am a 36-year old with MULTIPLE chronic pain diagnoses;
Degenerative Disk Disease (L1-L5 fused naturally, and C7 constantly inflamed.)
Pernicious Anemia
Arthritis and Joint Laxity Disorder
Chronic Migraine
Kidney Disease causing passing frequent stones
And IBS, which has recently started giving me some pretty bad problems.

I started having the majority of my CP after a surgery that went horribly wrong and resulted in Sepsis and eight additional surgeries. (2007) I did the rounds with local doctors, and trying every medicine on the market with no relief or worse from side effects. Many doctors told me it was in my head. And I finally had an appointment at Mayo Clinic (Jacksonville) when my now-ex husband decided to leave me with a 4 year old and divorce me. He was an alcoholic and took my prescription drugs, and was willing to play dirty to get what he wanted.
It took three years after Mayo (and several of my diagnoses – plus a shrink sitting me down and saying, “You’re NOT CRAZY. This is NOT in your head!”) to get back on track with pain management – ESPECIALLY as I have NO INSURANCE, but only income is too little to pay for visits AND Meds.
I have recently found out that my doctor, whom has been treating me for almost THIRTY YEARS, is probably going to be forced to retire, due to cancer relapse, and I have to find a new doctor to prescribe my medications. I will have to start over AGAIN for the THIRD TIME… and I’m just so tired already.


I think it depends on your location. Did men or woman do this study? Of course they are under treated and attributed emotionally problems vs listening to your body. Or put though unnecessary prolonged expensive testing for so long they are debilitated. pain in depressing giving up your quality of life is depressing. Who decided its woman abuse or trauma that cause them to have more pain??????? I have very high pain tolerance to a detriment. Lack of appropriate pain care causes chronic pain per science. Maybe one of the reasons my pain tolerance is so high is because my pain isnt treated. due to not being in a progressive area for pain medication. I have had it with all this garabage surround the war on drugs and on woman. I want my life back. I cannot work because could not manage pain. Much less uninsured. Oh yeah…………………..

Wendy Hanson

I am so tired of being in pain. Jumping through hoops to get pain meds. Doctors offices overbooking and not being able to cancel an appointment because I would run out of meds. I would do anything to not have to take them. It has nothing to do with being a woman. My doctor is a women. She is not the problem except that I was never addicted until they started testing on a regular basis. They have made me an addict. I never sold on the black market, but my goodness, if you are not taking them you must be selling them. Ever heard of hoarding so you don’t run out when you can’t get an appointment? Or when your doctor is on vacation and the covering doctor is afraid to prescribe for you? Or when you just hurt too much to get to the doctor. I have been on pain meds for over 20 years. I don’t expect they will ever be able to control my pain completely. Fibromyalgia, Sciatica, Stenosis, 8 knee surgeries, none being total replacement because I wasn’t old enough. Then when I was the Doc said I took to much pain medication. He didn’t know what he could give me to control it. Almost overdosing on Fentanyl because the Physical therapist put a heating pad between my patch and the table. Sick for several days. I just want to get off them and be in pain at this point but the Rehabs are all about the money. I am tired and old and the medical profession could care less about you as well as the pharmacists. Telling me if I get my meds anywhere else I can’t come back there. Ready to end it all!!!!!!


I myself don’t know if it has or has not anything to do with abuse but what I do blame it on is the healthcare system. Over the years they put band aids on everything or try this or that which will leave you in chronic pain without getting to the source. When I was growing up if you went to the Drs you told them the problem tests were done until they found the source and guess what there was a name to it and maybe even healed because they cared enough to look into what was wrong. It’s terrible the way they do people all they want to do is push drugs and none of us want that and those that get hooked on them can blame our wonderful healthcare we get. Drs act as though there afraid to send you for test or do anything but give meds for pain. I for one hate pills just want to find the source and do what can be done.

Brenda Alice

I do not believe disease and abuse/illness are related when years separate the two. Abuse during my childhood certainly hasn’t caused my discs to rupture, IC, IBS or the autonomic system failure. The doctors that treated me have made fun of me, belittled, accused me of abusing drugs and making up symptoms. I have had chronic pain since my first surgery was screwed up. I do not nor do I see the need to mention childhood issues 50 years later when they have no bearing. I have fought chronic pain for almost 20 years. It’s not a life nor one that I would wish on anyone else except just one day for each pharmacist, doctor and legislator that enjoys the discrimination they play with the disabled. Chronic pain was unheard of when mine began but drug abuse was and still is. Treatment options are limited and those that I have been forced into unsuccessful. Thank you for allowing comments. I have found support with the Kentucky pain care action network on Facebook that is open to all states.

Julie Walker

Hello. I am a chronic migraineur. My headaches started when I was 14 years old, now I am 44. Nobody never really understood my pain. I had 2 girls, a hysterectomy and the migraines were there but not as bad. In 2003 on 9-11, I had a major car accident that affected me really bad. I had a severe whiplash that almost broke my neck. My migraines were so bad after that accident. I went to pain management doctors, my family doctor and I think I have tried every available drug there is. My family doctor recommended I see a neurologist, which I have been with her for 3 years now. I am allergic to so many foods, barometric pressure rises, changes in weather and the Texas heat all throws me into a migraine. My family knows that migraines have affected our life together. I’m so sick of being a chronic ill woman. There’s no cure for migraines yet, but I refuse to give up. I’m hoping there’s a cure one day. People look at me like I’m crazy, yet they do not know how I feel on the inside. I wish someone had the answer to my migraines. The good Lord above is my only answer. He will give my healing to me one day.

Jacqueline Bennett

I have chronic pain. My symptoms began close to ten years ago and continue to escalate. The only one to take me seriously for years, was my podiatrist. Now that I am post 55 and having a variety of medical conditions finally presenting themselves with much more severity, they are finally beginning to pay attention. but I still do not have answers and very little treatment.