Chronic Pain in Kids on the Rise, Study Says

While now more than ever, kids have broad access to diagnosis and treatment of chronic conditions, it also seems that complaints among young people of chronic pain are on the rise, a new study has observed.

Resulting in missed school, abandoned extracurricular activities and other withdrawal from normal childhood activities, chronic pain not only has short-term consequences, but could lead to longer-term difficulties with anxiety and similar conditions. The data was culled by researchers from more than 32 epidemiological studies and found that “persistant and recurrent chronic pain” was becoming a larger problem since researchers began to collect data in 1991, and that there were some notable patterns in the data. Researcher Sara King, PhD, an Assistant Professor at Mount Saint Vincent University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, commented on the findings:

“We found that persistent and recurrent chronic pain is overwhelmingly prevalent in children and adolescents, with girls generally experiencing more pain than boys and prevalence rates increasing with age. Findings such as these argue that researchers and clinicians should be aware of the problem and the long-term consequences of chronic pain in children.”

The types of pain measured by the study include what may seem to be garden variety child and teen complaints, including stomach ache or abdominal pain, back pain, headaches, combined pain, musculoskeletal pain and general pain. Researchers considered psychosocial variables- included among them were socioeconomic status, anxiety, low self-esteem and depression. King noted:

“By shifting focus to factors associated with chronic and recurrent pain, it may be possible to identify the most salient risk factors, leading to early and intensive interventions for the most at-risk groups.”

In the study, headaches were the most commonly cited form of chronic pain in children and teens.

[Image: Shutterstock]