Pain conditions that often occur together and either solely or predominantly affect women have been termed by the NIH as chronic overlapping pain conditions (COPCs). They include: vulvodynia, temporomandibular disorders, myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome, irritable bowel syndrome, interstitial cystitis/painful bladder syndrome, fibromyalgia, endometriosis, chronic tension-type and migraine headache, and chronic low back pain. Sawsan As-Sanie, MD, an obstetrics & gynecology specialist discusses how these patients often demonstrate common abnormalities in neural, immune, and endocrine function, which may explain the overlapping nature, as well as increased risk for developing new COPC. COPCs lead to physical and mental disability, poor sexual function, higher rates of drug addiction, and suicide. What symptoms should practitioners look out for?
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