New research published in Menopause indicates midlife women with documented menopause symptoms are nearly twice as likely to be diagnosed with chronic pain, independent of mental health status and other risk factors.
Women who struggle with the “change of life” symptoms i.e. hot flashes, depression, weight gain AND have heart disease, diabetes, cancer, etc. are now found to be more prone to develop chronic pain. Carolyn J. Gibson, PhD, MPH, of the San Francisco VA Medical Center, and colleagues wrote in the study background. “Therefore, within this critical period, women with a higher menopause symptom burden may be most vulnerable for chronic pain.”
Gibson and her colleagues analyzed over 200,000 medical and pharmacy records of women over age 45 and found 26% of the women had documented menopause symptoms, and 51% had chronic pain.
PTSD was the most common mental health diagnosis in the group (18%), followed by anxiety (15%) and a depression (13%). The presence of overweight or obesity and all mental health diagnoses were higher among women with chronic pain, according to the researchers.
“Understanding health factors related to chronic pain, and the health-related context in which they occur, is essential for providing adequate, effective and comprehensive care,” the researchers wrote.