All patients are not created equal when it comes to getting proper pain treatment, according to a study published in The Journal of Pain.
Researchers looked at pain drugs prescribed at the primary-care level, before referral to a specialty pain clinic. They discovered that women and black people were given less access to medications:
- Black patients: prescribed 1.8 medications
- White patients: prescribed 2.6 medications
- Men: 30% given strong opioid
- Women: 21% given strong opioid
Researchers say that inadequate treatment can lead to sleep disturbance, depression and greater disability.
This study didn't examine specific pain conditions, such as fibromyalgia. However, the information is likely relevant to us because 90% of those diagnosed with fibromyalgia are women. We know that many doctors are especially reluctant to prescribe us pain medication because of doubts over the "reality" of our condition, and because of the perception that traditional pain relievers don't help us. (That's partially true -- narcotics/opiates are ineffective for some, but highly effective for others.)
Younger men got the best pain management. I have to wonder if that's because they're generally less likely to complain about pain, so doctors take them more seriously.
The researchers are calling for better education of primary care providers when it comes to proper treatment of pain.
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