Sexism in Chronic Pain Treatment?

Female patients accuse doctors of downplaying their complaints.
2:06 | 02/14/12

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Transcript for Sexism in Chronic Pain Treatment?
-- the first time ever the US congress held a hearing today on paying 116. Million Americans suffer chronic pain and most of them are women but we heard today. That women are often not treated the same way as -- their complaints are ignored here's ABC Cecilia Vega. I've suffered from chronic pain for twenty years my doctors never took my any complaints. Paying seriously. These women are hardly alone on having some -- 230 minutes. Didn't work too well. For Linda Brown it was debilitating pain in her face for seven years cycling through doctor after doctor each time feeling like no one took her seriously. Experts say women are often dismissed by their doctors when it comes to paint. And what they face inside the doctor's office is shocking. One study found when men and women report the same pain. Men are treated much more aggressively while women receive -- diagnosis. Improper an unproven treatments and it collects. I think it. A lot of times women symptoms especially pain. Are you should needed to emotional imbalance or you know women being hysterical or crying wolf about their pain and and that's absolutely wrong. And it impacts how women are treated after surgery one study found women are less likely to receive fair and optimal treatment for their pain. To relieve -- pain from arthritis doctors are 22 times more likely to recommend a man gets surgery and a woman -- Think with women two weeks ten to downplay their symptoms I mean I think that's one of things we can do better so is the onus on the women or the doctors I think he always is -- I think that women need to come forward more with their symptoms and I also think they shouldn't ignore their symptoms and they think doctors need to do a better job of listening to women. Some doctors say this is an age old gender bias -- -- all the -- back to ancient Greece when women with health problems were instead diagnosed with hysteria. An emotional condition the -- Greeks -- was unique to women. So what can you do. Don't ignore any pain itemize it all to your doctor if -- not being heard get a second opinion or third fourth or fifth that's necessary. It worked for Linda Brown. Now after the proper diagnosis she pain free -- guilty because I didn't -- nobody can tell me why. It took eight doctors to finally get it right Cecilia Vega ABC news Los Angeles.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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