Mental Health Living with the pain: Coping With Chronic Pain

Living with the pain: Coping With Chronic Pain


Pain enters the lives of women in a slow and stubborn way. The causes are usually multiple, and to treat it an individualized diagnosis is necessary. At any age, the first reason for consultation in primary care is pain in the musculoskeletal system (in the cervical, thoracic and lumbar spine, in the joints, in the hands and feet).

Although it may be thought that rheumatic diseases, such as osteoarthritis or osteoarthritis, occur in people over 50 years of age, autoimmune and connective tissue diseases affect young and predominantly female people.

Whether in the spine, in the joints or in the muscle mass, pain is present in the life of 33% of the female population; it is twice as high in women as in men, and its prevalence increases with age from 45 years.


The history of women has been invisible and silenced for centuries and, with the same intensity, the pain they have felt in their body has been silenced and invisible.

The pain has been embodied in the body itself, layer after layer:

  • Through mental, physical and sexual abuse and aggression in childhood;
  • Through the “worked body” from the age of nine;
  • Through ergonomic working conditions that torture with the monotonous repetition of movements;
  • Through an emotional repression that contracts the muscles of the trapezius to produce changes in the vertebral discs;
  • Through gender bias in chronic pain medical research, which has produced a lack of science in the differential diagnosis of biological diseases that can cause pain.

The lack of listening to the symptoms of women or the hasty treatment with psychotropic drugs that silence the complaint and the deep discomfort have also contributed.

The diagnosis of pain has to be faced individually, undoing the layers one by one. In any case, it is essential that women’s associations and health professional networks collaborate and empower each other to initiate the healing of pain layer by layer, in reverse order of how they have entered the body.


Doctors Marianne Frankenhaueser and Ulf Lundberg, from the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, have shown that it is mental stress and jobs with an emotional component are precisely those that can produce the most alterations due to muscle contractures.

The situations of excessive work, without periods of rest or relaxation, force to keep constant the hormonal levels of adaptation: cortisol, epinephrine, and norepinephrine. The level of these hormones increases when the sun rises, decreases in the afternoon and has its lowest point at night. In stressful situations, nighttime levels do not drop, leading to disruption of the balance of circadian rhythms.

The double shift of many women , with an increase in tasks after five in the afternoon, the time at which stress hormones would begin to decline, contributes to the alteration of the sleep rhythm and, consequently, to the increase of pain or contractures in the following days, which forces an increase in the consumption of painkillers. Over the years, this situation contributes directly to chronic pain.

The consequences are. Among other diseases and disorders:

  • In the first place, an alteration in the phases of sleep and the depth of night rest, which produces the feeling of morning fatigue, as if the hours of sleep had not been used for anything.
  • Alterations in the rhythm of bowel movements and the heart: tachycardia’s or arrhythmias.
  • Sometimes an increased feeling of anxiety and anguish.
  • An increase in muscle contracture, with increased pain in the cervical, dorsal and lumbar areas.
  • Pain and osteoarthritis in the spine, knees, feet, hands and shoulders.
  • The syndrome of the carpal tunnel.


The most acute pain can be triggered by surgery, an accident or the death or serious illness of a relative, but it nests in a body that had already felt pain and had hidden it. This masking ends up causing distant symptoms, since the whole body tends to compensate.

Among the causes are undoubtedly combined psychological, biological, social and environmental aspects.

There are many diseases that women suffer more than men. They are disorders that end up causing chronic pain, pain that could be avoided if detected early. Among them are:


  • It is the most common cause of chronic inflammatory arthritis.
  • It affects 1-2% of the population.
  • 75% of patients are women.
  • The highest peak of incidence occurs between the ages of 20 and 40.
  • Although the pain can cause deformities in the hands and extremities, it is possible that the muscular discomfort appears years before.


  • It is so named because, in addition to joint and muscle pain, there is dryness of the mucous membranes in the mouth and eyes.
  • It is estimated that 1% of the population suffers from this underdiagnosed disease.


  • It is a multisystem disease characterized by the presence of multiple autoantibodies.
  • It is much more common in women than in men, with a ratio of 9 to 1.

Deploying prevention strategies is vital.


  • The repetitive and monotonous work constantly affecting the joints or in which you have to be standing postures forced many hours produce alterations in the spine, joints, the legs and feet.
  • In the long term, it can trigger osteoarthritis of the hip.
  • If there are alterations in the metabolism of vitamin D and calcium, something that can occur after the age of 50, osteoarthritis worsens.


  • The endocrinological diseases can affect the muscles peripheral, causing pain and muscle involvement.
  • Given the high prevalence of thyroid disease in women, hypothyroid or hyperthyroid myopathy should be systematically ruled out as the cause of pain.


The environmental chemicals at work or in the environment, are pesticide or solvent, can produce:

  • Central nervous system and muscle plate affectations.
  • Problems in the respiratory system and neuropsychological functions.
  • Hypothalamic alterations.
  • Increase in autoimmune diseases.
  • Excess estrogen that causes alterations in the menstrual cycle.


  • Cases have been described in which osteoporosis is accompanied by pain in the muscles.
  • This reduction in bone mass or density is accompanied by a deterioration of the architecture of the skeleton, which increases the risk of fractures.
  • In some women, bone density can drop sharply after menopause, but many young women also have it from smoking or using birth control for years.


  • It is characterized by pain and stiffness in the cervical spine, upper back, and hip.
  • Patients have characteristic morning stiffness and after sitting for a while.
  • Arthritis is accompanied, among others, by headaches, visual disturbances, sore throat, and sometimes fever of unknown origin.


  • It is a disease that affects 3% of the population. It can compromise the personal, social and work life of the patient.
  • How to correctly diagnose fibromyalgia? The diagnosis is eminently clinical (based on data and symptoms); there is no specific test. But before accepting it, other diseases such as those listed, which cause generalized muscle pain in addition to other symptoms, should be ruled out.
  • Some evidence seems to indicate a genetic or toxic origin in fibromyalgia. In 70% of the cases, occupational exposure to toxic substances in the environment has been proven.
  • Research, in collaboration with associations of affected people, should be aimed at developing evidence-based medicine that takes into account the biological, psychological, social and environmental factors of pain and aims to identify them.
MindFixes Staff
MindFixes is dedicated to promoting mental health, preventing mental disorders and advocating, educating, and serving all people with mental and substance use conditions. MindFixes is determined to persevere, learn, grow, love and laugh through our wellness journey and we invite all to join.


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