Chronic pain is one of the most frustrating medical conditions out there. Its effects are terrible and yet relatively little is known about its causes.
There is also really no way to cure it. Many pain patients are simply prescribed powerful painkillers, such as Oxycodone. The nature of chronic pain makes sufferers 4 times as likely to commit suicide.
Now, on top of all this, a new study shows chronic pain rates rising among children.
Researchers from Dalhousie University and IWK Health Centre looked at 32 surveys of chronic pain among children and adolescents and then subdivided them according to pain type. These were: headaches, abdominal pain, back pain, musculoskeletal pain, combined pain, and general pain.
They found headaches were far and away the most common type of pain among children, with a prevalence rate of 23%. The other pain types were not as well-studied as headaches, but the team estimated their combined prevalence rate could be anywhere from 11-38%.
Lead investigator Dr. Sara King said:
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.
Pain patients often develop anxiety and depression as a result of their condition. Kids may leave school and isolate themselves socially, which can worsen the anxiety and depression. There is evidence anxiety and depression can make the underlying pain worse, too, which starts the vicious cycle all over again.
Another problem, King found, was that previous studies weren’t particularly well-designed. In the past researchers have done a poor job defining “pain” to participants. They’ve also struggled to effectively measure pain intensity, frequency and duration. So there is clearly definite room for improvement in the realm of pain research as well.
Dr. King concluded:
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.
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