Is Black Pain Treated Less?

man holding head in pain( — Ask anyone what their top health complaints are, and guaranteed, pain will probably be pretty high on the list. And whether you’re black or white, we all hurt the same way, right?

Pretty much – but according to studies, how our pain is treated sometimes varies greatly by the color of our skin.

Turns out, Blacks are more likely than whites to deal with untreated pain. Also, they’re less likely to get adequate care for that pain. And minority patients who don’t get proper pain treatment early on are likely to suffer depression and post-traumatic stress disorder down the road, says Dr. Carmen Green, a pain specialist and professor of anesthesiology at the University of Michigan.

Researchers don’t know whether the pain imbalance is due to racial bias, cultural differences, physiological variances, or a combination of factors, but they do know one thing: Pain is not colorblind.

A recent study by Green of 200 chronic pain patients in the University of Michigan health system found that black patients were prescribed fewer pain medications than whites, and that women were given weaker pain medications than men were given. The research published in the Journal of Pain showed that, on average, a minority pain patient would be prescribed 1.8 pain medications compared to 2.6 drugs for non-minority sufferers.