Women's Pain Division Overview


Improving women's health

Certain pain disorders disproportionately affect women: Fibromyalgia and pelvic pain occur 10 times more frequently in women; migraine is three times more prevalent. Women's pain is complicated and probably involves multiple factors, both genetic and environmental.

Through research and clinical trials, the goal of the Women's Pain Division is to advance diagnostics, prevention, drug development, and treatment to improve women's health.

WPD physicians and investigators are engaged in translational programs aimed at understanding female pain disorders. Translational teams with multidisciplinary interests and strengths in basic and clinical science skills work closely to identify areas of urgent need for better research and treatment in female pain disorders.

The Women's Pain Division focuses on the following three disorders:

Fibromyalgia and related musculo-skeletal pain syndromes: Chronic conditions characterized by pain and tenderness of muscles, tendons and joints. Patients affected by the syndrome often suffer from chonic fatigue syndrome, and the majority has sleep disorders. It is most commonly diagnosed in women between 40 and 55, frequently in association with the onset of menopause. Ninety percent of patients with fibromyalgia are women, affecting up to 8 million women in the United States. Related female-prevalent musculo-skeletal pain disorders include conditions such as osteoarthritis.

Migraine headaches are characterized by a feeling of throbbing or pulsing, often on one side of the head. This is often accompanied by nausea and hypersensitivity to light, sounds, and smells. Approximately 75 percent of all migraine sufferers are women, and a change in hormonal status during the reproductive cycle is a frequent trigger. Some 30 million people in the United States suffer from migraines.

Pelvic pain is estimated to affect 17 percent of the adult female population, and more than 90 percent of individuals with pelvic pain are women. This painful condition is sometimes associated with endometriosis in women of child-bearing age. However, one type of pelvic pain (vulvar vestibulitis) has been noted to occur following use of oral contraceptives at an early age, while another (dysesthetic vulvodynia) often occurs at the onset of menopause.

Women's Pain Division Investigators

Nancy Berman, PhD, Anatomy and Cell Biology
Jeanne Drisko, MD, Integrative Medicine
Tomas Griebling, MD, MPH, Surgery Urology
Beth Levant, PhD, Pharmacology, Toxicology & Therapeutics
Teresa Long, MD, Psychiatry & Behavior Science
Kenneth McCarson, PhD, Pharmacology, Toxicology & Therapeutics
Michael Moncure, MD, FACS, Trauma and Critical Care
Michael Rapoff, PhD, ABPP, Pediatrics
Peter Smith, PhD, KIDDRCE
Kim Templeton, MD, Surgery Orthopedics
Yunxia Wang, MD, Neurology
Doug Wright, PhD, Anatomy and Cell Biology

Last modified: Aug 22, 2017
Division Directors

Division Director:
Peter Smith, PhD

Associate Director:
Teresa Long, MD

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