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How’s Your Pain?

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The law says the other side owes you compensation for your physical pain and emotional distress. That part of your case is called pain and suffering.

For women, this can be one of the most complicated parts of bringing a lawsuit that involves an injury. Women and men can be very different when it comes to pain. From how doctors care for our pain to how we deal with it in our daily lives, women in pain get treated – and treat themselves – differently. Surprisingly, though, almost no one talks about these differences when it comes to a woman’s personal injury or mass tort claim. But understanding the importance of treating, tending, and describing pain can help you get the best possible recovery from both your care and your case.

Women and pain treatment

Researchers have found that women face a bias when it comes to pain. One study showed that no matter what kind of pain women have, we tend to get poorer treatment for our pain than men do. In fact, the research shows that women are more likely to have health care providers:

  • Discount verbal pain reports
  • Fail to provide enough pain treatments
  • Make incorrect diagnosis by ignoring pain
  • Give sedatives rather than pain medications
  • Make physical pain more important than emotional or psychological pain

Care providers don’t usually mean to treat men and women differently. Still, long-standing beliefs can lead doctors not to take your pain as seriously as they should. If you believe your doctor needs to do a better job of treating your pain, you can discuss the topic directly with your doctor. Help to make your doctor more conscious if the specific care and treatment you need as a woman to deal with pain from your injury.

Tending your pain

The research also shows that women feel pain differently than men do. Differences in our bodies and biology mean women can experience pain more often and the pain we have can feel worse. Those tendencies mean that some of us can “get used” to pain. We may try and muscle through pain, keep going, or minimize the pain we feel.

When an injury occurs as part of a wreck or injury, dealing with our pain gets even more complicated. You may feel like your family needs you to ignore your pain. Financial realities may also need you to keep working. The other side’s efforts to minimize your pain may make you doubt yourself. Together these forces may make you want to deny your pain.

But even if you have kept going, persistent wreck or injury pain takes its toll. When you feel a back ache or nerve damage every day, it wears you down, saps your energy and makes life less fun. Being willing to say you are in pain is a key step to getting the care you need – and for being able to get the right amount of damages you deserve for that pain in your case.

Treating your pain

Your pain treatment begins with your care team. Armed with knowledge of how to have your pain taken seriously, you will hopefully have your symptoms get the right treatment and get a plan that does what it can to address the issues you have.

But you also might need to learn to live with some amount of pain. This is especially true for women who find they can’t tolerate prescription and/or over-the-counter medications. Ask your doctor what other alternative pain treatment options they can suggest.

You may also want to consider using meditation to help with pain. Research shows that even short daily sessions of meditation can significantly help to improve your pain. We especially like the Meditation “Pain Pack” at Headspace. The sessions will provide gentle guidance to help you understand your pain better. The information you get will then help you better describe what kind of pain you have, where it is. In turn, that knowledge will give you a better understanding about how you can best deal with it. That improved understanding will help you communicate better with your doctor, your lawyer, and the people who decide your case.

Derry Adams and Sally Spector © 2018.

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