Scientific American - New report details uphill battle to solve the US's pain problem


The Institute of Medicine reveals a "blueprint" for relieving Americans' pervasive chronic pain… The U.S. needs "a cultural transformation" in the way we view pain, treat it and conduct research on its causes and treatments, says a new report released June 29 by the Institute of Medicine (IOM).

One major challenge of understanding and treating pain is its huge variability. In working with mice, researcher Jeffrey Mogil, at McGill University's Pain Genetics Lab, has found that the response to pain can vary tremendously by breed and by gender.

Some of those differences also have been observed in humans. Caucasians appear to be more tolerant of pain than those of African descent. And it is now well established that women on average are more sensitive to pain than are men, although they also have better coping mechanisms for acute pain such as the estrogen receptor–based response that kicks in during childbirth.