Strength. Toughness. Resilience. Self-reliance. Dominance.
Because people commonly associate these words with a certain gender, men have been known to experience difficulty breaking down barriers in healthcare.
The perpetuation of this stereotype has even impacted the health behaviors of men, as males are significantly less likely to report symptoms of pain than women are.
One study analyzed the effects of pain in patients who sought treatment from a specialty pain clinic.
Results showed that women experiencing pain report higher activity levels, more acceptance of pain, and greater social support for their pain.
On the other hand, men experience more mood changes, lower activity levels, and more fear of movement in response to pain (Rovner et al., 2017).
These results may be surprising to some people who don’t realize the dynamics at play within this underserved population. The lasting impact of chronic pain on men should be discussed more often and in more depth to help dissolve the stigma surrounding it. Here are some other important points about chronic pain in men:
Chronic pain uniquely influences men
Men are very susceptible to gender bias in healthcare, with the potential of being dismissed, having their symptoms minimized, or even ignored by health providers who do not understand their concerns.
Not only does this negatively impact their ability to receive quality care but men will likely continue to grapple with the stigma that may have prevented them from seeking care for so long.
This lack of self-advocacy and delay in care delivery can cause complications and additional health concerns, as unaddressed chronic pain can quickly have a lasting influence on a man’s physical and mental health.
Men are more likely to report pain as they age
The exact reason for this is not known, as it can differ depending on cultural beliefs, environmental factors, and social supports. However, it has been observed that men report pain more often once they reach retirement age and beyond.
This may be due to an increased fear of death or severe complications or mental and emotional exhaustion from holding a more “masculine role” for so many years. Many people also believe that older men seek assistance for chronic pain because it is thought to be more socially acceptable and considered a normal part of the aging process.
These results seem to contradict the societal view of how men are expected to handle pain. However, the good news is that learned, behavioral responses such as fear of movement and acceptance of pain can be changed with some time and effort.
This is the case for most of our responses to chronic pain as well as how we seek chronic pain relief.
Both men and women can overcome potentially unhealthy responses to their pain by seeking support and using the power of planning to achieve consistent chronic pain relief.
If you aren’t already connected, reach out to begin planning for chronic pain relief with one of our mentors today!