Sex differences in musculoskeletal pain

Clin J Pain. 2001 Mar;17(1):20-4. doi: 10.1097/00002508-200103000-00004.


Epidemiologic, clinical, and experimental evidence points to sex differences in musculoskeletal pain. Adult women more often have musculoskeletal problems than do men. Discrepant findings regarding the presence of such differences during childhood and adolescence continue. Biologic and psychosocial factors might account for these differences. The authors review evidence showing that mechanically induced pressure is more likely to show sex differences than other noxious stimuli and to discriminate between individuals suffering from musculoskeletal pain and matched controls. The authors suggest that a state of increased pain sensitivity, with a peripheral or central origin, predisposes individuals to chronic muscle pain conditions, and that there are sex differences in the operation of these mechanisms; women are vulnerable to the development and maintenance of musculoskeletal pain conditions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Musculoskeletal Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Pain / physiopathology*
  • Pain Threshold
  • Pressure
  • Sex Characteristics*