Why do women feel chronic pain more than men? Well according to Pain News Network it’s basically because their brains work differently. Women suffer from a higher incidence of chronic pain conditions such as fibromyalgia and osteoarthritis. And studies have found that they often have to take more morphine than men to get the same level of analgesia.
In healthy people, microglia cells survey the brain, looking for signs of infection or pathogens like bacteria. Morphine is perceived as a pathogen and activates the cells, causing the release of inflammatory chemicals such as cytokines. Researchers say this causes “a neuroinflammatory response that directly opposes the analgesic effects of morphine.”
To test their theory, researchers gave male and female rats naloxone, a drug that reverses the effects of an opioid overdose, and found that it inhibits the microglia activation triggered by morphine.
“The results of the study have important implications for the treatment of pain, and suggests that microglia may be an important drug target to improve opioid pain relief in women,” said Dr. Anne Murphy, PhD, co-author of the study. Murphy says her team’s finding may also help explain why women are significantly more likely to experience chronic pain conditions than men.
We tend to think of pain as just contained in the nerves, spinal cord, and brain, but it’s actually a hugely complicated business, and its interactions with a particular part of the body’s immune arsenal are the target of new studies, says Bustle, they agree that Microglia seem to be an integral part of a healthy brain’s functioning.