A study by Vanderbilt University researchers indicates pain is sensed differently by men and women and also by Alzheimer's patients, findings that could lead to improvements in pain management.
The findings by Todd Monroe and his colleagues at Vanderbilt’s School of Nursing, recently published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, present potential insight into future development of pain evaluation systems as well as pain management treatment in older adult populations with Alzheimer’s disease, a Vanderbilt release said.
In the study, researchers worked with 14 men and 14 women age 65 and up, all of whom were diagnosed with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease. The women identified pain onset (from an applied heat source) at lower temperatures than did men; while the men reported the sensation as more “unpleasant,” the release said.
Vanderbilt officials indicated in the release that additional studies are needed.
The study, backed by several clinics, foundations and the National Institutes of Health (NIH), dovetailed with an earlier Vanderbilt study reported in 2016 indicating that in general, Alzheimer’s patients have a diminished perception of pain in comparison to healthy older adults, with under-reporting a possible factor in that population’s tendency to be less effectively medicated.