| Last updated
Scientists have discovered that genetic differences between the sexes may explain why women are more likely to suffer chronic pain than men.
Researchers at the University of Glasgow have undertaken the largest ever genetic study on chronic pain, and have found the condition has different genetic basis in men and women.
The researchers looked for genetic variants linked to chronic pain among 209,093 women and 178,556 men.
They found women had 31 genes associated with the long lasting condition.
The study also found that chronic pain largely comes from the brain rather than the part of the body where it actually hurts.
For a pain to be considered as "chronic" by medical professionals, the condition must persist for more than 12 weeks.
In some cases, chronic pain can last for several years, causing mild to severe levels of discomfort at any given time.
It is estimated that at least 10 per cent of the world's population suffers from chronic pain, although the figure is probably much higher.
Over a third of the UK population suffers from some type of persistent pain, such as headaches, nerve damage or lower back pain.
It can make getting through daily tasks challenging as it can cause a significant reduction in people's mobility, flexibility, strength and endurance.
Reports have suggested that up to 70 per cent of chronic pain sufferers are women - who are thought to feel pain more often, for longer periods, in more areas, and even more intensely.
Author doctoral student Keira Johnston said: "Our study highlights the importance of considering sex as a biological variable and showed subtle but interesting sex differences in the genetics of chronic pain.
"Women may be at greater risk of experiencing chronic pain because the condition has a different genetic basis in men and women.
"Research into chronic pain and potentially other complex conditions will likely benefit from approaches that take sex into account.
"Overall, these findings add to our understanding of chronic pain and may inform the development of novel therapies for this hard-to-treat condition."
Chosen for YouChosen for You
Most Read StoriesMost Read