Pain processing, men vs women.


(Altmann, 2014)


As a massage therapist one of my most common questions for patients is about pain.  Describe your pain, is it dull, aching, sharp, shooting, does it come and go or is it constant.  Pain is one of the biggest reasons patients seek out massage therapy.  This recent article in Massage Therapy Canada discusses new findings on pain and how the immune system plays a part in the transmission of pain, as well as how this transmission difference in men and women.  This new research on how pain is perceived, interpreted and delivered could have an impact on how we question our patients about their pain and what type of treatment plan we design for them or what other complementary therapist we include in their team.

As an educator, this article also illustrates why it is so important in our profession to ensure new graduates are able to explore the ever evolving viewpoints and research on how the human body functions.  In a classroom I could see starting a web search assignment on new research/trends in massage therapy and having  students problem solve how this new information may impact their treatment of a patient.  Ensuring that students are able to stay current on new research/trends in our field will be pivotal in staying current, to ensure they are offering the best they can to each patient.

In my own personal practice this particular article makes me wonder if the immune system (specifically killer T cells) takes part in the transmission of pain in women, then would a reverse treatment of boosting the immune system have an impact on the degree of pain felt?  As a massage therapist, recommending medication is out of my scope of practice, however, I can refer patients out to a Naturopath, Traditional Chinese Medicine Doctor (TCM Dr) or suggest they speak with their Western Medicine Doctor.



Altman,G (2014). Nerve cells dendrites sepia. [online image] Retrieved

November 26, 2015 from



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