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New research has shown that women are 1.38 times more likely than men to report neck pain due to cervical degenerative disc disease (DDD), a common cause of neck pain.

Symptoms of this condition include stiff or inflexible neck, burning, tingling and numbness. Pain is most prevalent when the patient is upright or moving the head.

Dr. Meda Raghavendra and Dr. Joseph Holtman, of Loyola University Medical Center and Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, reviewed the records of 3,337 adult patients treated at Loyola University´s Pain Management Center. They found that the prevalence of cervical DDD was 4%, and females were 1.38 times more likely to have cervical DDD. Among patients with cervical DDD, males were three times more likely to have obesity.

The researchers also conducted a similar study of patients who were treated for lumbosacral degenerative disc disease, a cause of lower back pain. The prevalence in females, 12%, was slightly higher than the prevalence in males, 11%, but this difference was not statistically significant.

The studies were presented at the recent annual meeting of the American Academy of Pain Medicine.

Reporting on the findings, Loyola University said they add to the growing body of research on the differences in which men and women experience pain. Previous studies have found that females are more likely to be treated at pain clinics for chronic pain and that certain painful conditions, such as migraine headaches and fibromyalgia, are more common in women.

Various explanations for this have been proposed, including hormonal differences and the belief that men may be less willing to report pain.