Men vs Women - who has the worse pain?

Is there a difference in pain tolerance between men and women? This is a longstanding question and something that can cause a heated debate around the dinner table. A sort of Neurological battle of the sexes if you will...

New research from the team I work with at Mt Sinai Hospital in Toronto can help to answer this question when it comes to neuropathic pain from diabetes. 

We recently published a research study in the Journal of Diabetes and its Complications titled “Sex differences in neuropathic pain in longstanding diabetes: Results from the Canadian Study of Longevity in Type 1 Diabetes".

This study was part of the Canadian Study of Longevity in Type 1 Diabetes, which is an ongoing clinical study examining the factors associated with diabetes complications in people living with type 1 diabetes for over 50 years (funded by JDRF). 

Of the 361 participants in the study, neuropathy was present in 43% overall and there as no difference in the incidence of neuropathy between males (42%) and female (43%). It was interesting that 63% of participants with diagnosed neuropathy reported painful symptoms, while 16% of those without diagnosed neuropathy reported pain. 

Overall, female participants were nearly four times as likely to report pain compared to males. 

One very important finding from the study was that individuals that participate in regular physical activity of any type, were almost 50% less likely to report pain compared to people who are sedentary. 

In summary, neuropathy affects males and females equally, but females report painful symptoms more frequently than men. This emphasizes that a ‘one-size-fits-all approach’ does not work for managing neuropathic pain, but regular physical activity as part of a healthy lifestyle can reduce the presence of pain in males and females. 

So let's all go for a walk, for the sake of our nerves!
Dr. Evan