Special Issue "Chronic and Recurrent Pain"

A special issue of Children (ISSN 2227-9067).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 August 2016).

Printed Edition Available!
A printed edition of this Special Issue is available here.

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Lynn S. Walker
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Division of Adolescent and Young Adult Health, Department of Pediatrics, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, 2146 Belcourt Ave, Nashville, TN 37212 United States
Interests: chronic pain, functional gastrointestinal disorders, pain beliefs and coping
Dr. Carl L. Von Baeyer
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Clinical Health Psychology and Department of Pediatrics and Child Health, Faculty of Medicine, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
Interests: pain in childhood

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

For many years, people assumed that children did not experience chronic pain. However, recent epidemiological studies show that chronic pain, defined as constant or recurrent pain lasting 3 months or longer, is common in childhood. Empirical studies have characterized chronic pain conditions including headache, abdominal pain, chest pain, and fibromyalgia. These pain conditions are associated with school absence, emotional distress, disruption in family activities, and significantly reduced quality of life in both the affected youth and their families. 

Despite the prevalence and serious consequences of pediatric chronic pain, it is still under-recognized and under-treated. Too often, chronic pain is treated as a symptom of something else, rather than as a separate condition requiring its own treatment. The goal of this special issue is to discuss recent advances in the understanding and treatment of pediatric chronic pain.

The Special Issue contains 22 notable articles including original research, review, and commentary. Together they provide an excellent overview of the field of chronic and recurrent pediatric pain as it stands in 2016–17.  Thanks to all the authors for their valuable contributions. 

Dr. Lynn S. Walker
Dr. Carl L. von Baeyer
Guest Editors

Keywords

  • Chronic pain
  • Recurrent pain
  • Pediatric/paediatric
  • Infant
  • Child
  • Adolescent
  • Headache
  • Abdominal pain
  • Migraine
  • Back pain
  • Limb pain
  • Fibromyalgia

Published Papers (22 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle
Parent and Child Report of Pain and Fatigue in JIA: Does Disagreement between Parent and Child Predict Functional Outcomes?
Children 2017, 4(2), 11; https://doi.org/10.3390/children4020011 - 30 Jan 2017
Cited by 3
Abstract
While previous research in juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) has identified discrepancy between parent and child perception of disease-related symptoms such as pain, the significance and impact of this disagreement has not been characterized. We examined the extent to which parent-child discordance in JIA [...] Read more.
While previous research in juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) has identified discrepancy between parent and child perception of disease-related symptoms such as pain, the significance and impact of this disagreement has not been characterized. We examined the extent to which parent-child discordance in JIA symptom ratings are associated with child functional outcomes. Linear regression and mixed effects models were used to test the effects of discrepancy in pain and fatigue ratings on functional outcomes in 65 dyads, consisting of youth with JIA and one parent. Results suggested that children reported increased activity limitations and negative mood when parent and child pain ratings were discrepant, with parent rated child pain much lower. Greater discrepancy in fatigue ratings was also associated with more negative mood, whereas children whose parent rated child fatigue as moderately lower than the child experienced decreased activity limitations relative to dyads who agreed closely on fatigue level. Implications of these results for the quality of life and treatment of children with JIA are discussed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Chronic and Recurrent Pain) Printed Edition available
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Open AccessArticle
Pain in School: Patterns of Pain-Related School Impairment among Adolescents with Primary Pain Conditions, Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis Pain, and Pain-Free Peers
Children 2016, 3(4), 39; https://doi.org/10.3390/children3040039 - 30 Nov 2016
Cited by 5
Abstract
Children with chronic pain frequently experience impairment in the school setting, but we do not yet understand how unique these struggles are to children with primary pain conditions compared to peers with disease-related pain or those without chronic pain symptoms. The objective of [...] Read more.
Children with chronic pain frequently experience impairment in the school setting, but we do not yet understand how unique these struggles are to children with primary pain conditions compared to peers with disease-related pain or those without chronic pain symptoms. The objective of this study is to examine school functioning, defined as school attendance rates, overall quality of life in the school setting, and school nurse visits among adolescents with primary pain conditions, those with juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA)-related pain, and healthy peers. Two hundred and sixty adolescents participated in the study, including 129 with primary pain conditions, 61 with JIA, and 70 healthy comparison adolescents. They completed self- and parent-reported measures of school function. Findings show that as a group, youth with primary pain conditions reported more school absences, lower quality of life in the school setting, and more frequent school nurse visits compared to both adolescents with JIA-related pain and healthy peers. We conclude that compared to those who experience pain specific to a disease process, adolescents with primary pain conditions may face unique challenges in the school setting and may require more support to help them succeed in school in spite of pain. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Chronic and Recurrent Pain) Printed Edition available
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Open AccessArticle
Neighborhood Characteristics: Influences on Pain and Physical Function in Youth at Risk for Chronic Pain
Children 2016, 3(4), 35; https://doi.org/10.3390/children3040035 - 19 Nov 2016
Cited by 2
Abstract
Neighborhood features such as community socioeconomic status, recreational facilities, and parks have been correlated to the health outcomes of the residents living within those neighborhoods, especially with regard to health-related quality of life, body mass index, and physical activity. The interplay between one’s [...] Read more.
Neighborhood features such as community socioeconomic status, recreational facilities, and parks have been correlated to the health outcomes of the residents living within those neighborhoods, especially with regard to health-related quality of life, body mass index, and physical activity. The interplay between one’s built environment and one’s perceptions may affect physical health, well-being, and pain experiences. In the current study, neighborhood characteristics and attitudes about physical activity were examined in a high-risk (youths with a parent with chronic pain) and low-risk (youths without a parent with chronic pain) adolescent sample. There were significant differences in neighborhood characteristics between the high-risk (n = 62) and low-risk (n = 77) samples (ages 11–15), with low-risk participants living in residences with more walkability, closer proximity to parks, and higher proportion of neighborhood residents having college degrees. Results indicate that neighborhood features (e.g., walkability and proximity to parks), as well as positive attitudes about physical activity were correlated with lower levels of pain and pain-related disability, and higher performance in physical functioning tests. These findings suggest that the built environment may contribute to pain outcomes in youth, above and beyond the influence of family history of pain. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Chronic and Recurrent Pain) Printed Edition available
Open AccessArticle
The Parent Psychological Flexibility Questionnaire (PPFQ): Item Reduction and Validation in a Clinical Sample of Swedish Parents of Children with Chronic Pain
Children 2016, 3(4), 32; https://doi.org/10.3390/children3040032 - 19 Nov 2016
Cited by 6
Abstract
In pediatric chronic pain, research indicates a positive relation between parental psychological flexibility (i.e., the parent’s willingness to experience distress related to the child’s pain in the service of valued behavior) and level of functioning in the child. This points to the utility [...] Read more.
In pediatric chronic pain, research indicates a positive relation between parental psychological flexibility (i.e., the parent’s willingness to experience distress related to the child’s pain in the service of valued behavior) and level of functioning in the child. This points to the utility of targeting parental psychological flexibility in pediatric chronic pain. The Parent Psychological Flexibility Questionnaire (PPFQ) is currently the only instrument developed for this purpose, and two previous studies have indicated its reliability and validity. The current study sought to validate the Swedish version of the 17-item PPFQ (PPFQ-17) in a sample of parents (n = 263) of children with chronic pain. Factor structure and internal reliability were evaluated by means of principal component analysis (PCA) and Cronbach’s alpha. Concurrent criterion validity was examined by hierarchical multiple regression analyses with parental anxiety and depression as outcomes. The PCA supported a three-factor solution with 10 items explaining 69.5% of the total variance. Cronbach’s alpha (0.86) indicated good internal consistency. The 10-item PPFQ (PPFQ-10) further explained a significant amount of variance in anxiety (29%), and depression (35.6%), confirming concurrent validity. In conclusion, results support the reliability and validity of the PPFQ-10, and suggest its usefulness in assessing psychological flexibility in parents of children with chronic pain. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Chronic and Recurrent Pain) Printed Edition available
Open AccessArticle
Supporting Teens with Chronic Pain to Obtain High School Credits: Chronic Pain 35 in Alberta
Children 2016, 3(4), 31; https://doi.org/10.3390/children3040031 - 19 Nov 2016
Cited by 1
Abstract
Chronic pain is a significant problem in children and teens, and adolescents with chronic pain often struggle to attend school on a regular basis. We present in this article a novel program we developed that integrates attendance at a group cognitive-behavioural chronic pain [...] Read more.
Chronic pain is a significant problem in children and teens, and adolescents with chronic pain often struggle to attend school on a regular basis. We present in this article a novel program we developed that integrates attendance at a group cognitive-behavioural chronic pain self-management program with earning high school credits. We collaborated with Alberta Education in the development of this course, Chronic Pain 35. Adolescents who choose to enroll are invited to demonstrate their scientific knowledge related to pain, understanding of and engagement with treatment homework, and demonstrate their creativity by completing a project, which demonstrates at least one concept. Integrating Chronic Pain 35 into an adolescent’s academic achievements is a creative strategy that facilitates the engagement of adolescents in learning and adopting pain coping techniques. It also helps teens to advocate for themselves in the school environment and improve their parents’ and teachers’ understanding of adolescent chronic pain. This is one of the first successful collaborations between a pediatric health program and provincial education leaders, aimed at integrating learning and obtaining school credit for learning about and engaging in health self-management for teens. The authors hope this paper serves as an effective reference model for any future collaborating programs aimed at supporting teens with chronic pain to obtain high school credits. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Chronic and Recurrent Pain) Printed Edition available
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Open AccessArticle
Perinatal Risk Factors and Genu Valgum Conducive to the Onset of Growing Pains in Early Childhood
Children 2016, 3(4), 34; https://doi.org/10.3390/children3040034 - 18 Nov 2016
Cited by 2
Abstract
The most prevalent musculoskeletal disorder of childhood with unclear aetiology is growing pains (GPs). Anatomic deformities and factors that change bone turnover are implicated in GP pathophysiology. Perinatal risk factors alter the bone metabolism affecting the bone mineral density and content. The aim [...] Read more.
The most prevalent musculoskeletal disorder of childhood with unclear aetiology is growing pains (GPs). Anatomic deformities and factors that change bone turnover are implicated in GP pathophysiology. Perinatal risk factors alter the bone metabolism affecting the bone mineral density and content. The aim of our study was to analyze the relationship between GPs, knock knees and perinatal factors. The examined population consisted of 276 children aged 3–7 years. Among them, ten pairs of dizygotic twins were evaluated. The data were collected by using a combination of semi-structured questionnaires, clinical examinations and medical charts of the children and the obstetric history of the mothers. A total of 78 children presenting GPs met Peterson’s criteria. Genu valgum severity was a significant factor for GP manifestation and for their increased frequency and intensity. Subsequently, perinatal factors regarding gestational age, Apgar score, head circumference (lower than 33 cm) and birth length or weight (smaller than 50 cm and 3000 g, respectively) made a remarkable contribution to the development of GPs. Conversely, antenatal corticosteroid treatment, increased maternal age and maternal smoking during pregnancy were not predictive of the disorder. Our data are potentially supportive for the “bone strength” theory and for the contribution of anatomical disturbances in GP appearance. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Chronic and Recurrent Pain) Printed Edition available
Open AccessArticle
A Clinical Pilot Study of Individual and Group Treatment for Adolescents with Chronic Pain and Their Parents: Effects of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy on Functioning
Children 2016, 3(4), 30; https://doi.org/10.3390/children3040030 - 16 Nov 2016
Cited by 17
Abstract
Pediatric chronic pain is common and can result in substantial long-term disability. Previous studies on acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) have shown promising results in improving functioning in affected children, but more research is still urgently needed. In the current clinical pilot study, [...] Read more.
Pediatric chronic pain is common and can result in substantial long-term disability. Previous studies on acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) have shown promising results in improving functioning in affected children, but more research is still urgently needed. In the current clinical pilot study, we evaluated an ACT-based interdisciplinary outpatient intervention (14 sessions), including a parent support program (four sessions). Adolescents were referred to the clinic if they experienced disabling chronic pain. They were then randomized, along with their parents, to receive group (n = 12) or individual (n = 18) treatment. Adolescent pain interference, pain reactivity, depression, functional disability, pain intensity and psychological flexibility, along with parent anxiety, depression, pain reactivity and psychological flexibility were assessed using self-reported questionnaires. There were no significant differences in outcomes between individual and group treatment. Analyses illustrated significant (p < 0.01) improvements (medium to large effects) in pain interference, depression, pain reactivity and psychological flexibility post-treatment. Additionally, analyses showed significant (p < 0.01) improvements (large effects) in parent pain reactivity and psychological flexibility post-treatment. On all significant outcomes, clinically-significant changes were observed for 21%–63% of the adolescents across the different outcome measures and in 54%–76% of the parents. These results support previous findings and thus warrant the need for larger, randomized clinical trials evaluating the relative utility of individual and group treatment and the effects of parental interventions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Chronic and Recurrent Pain) Printed Edition available
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Open AccessArticle
“What Does Weight Have to Do with It?” Parent Perceptions of Weight and Pain in a Pediatric Chronic Pain Population
Children 2016, 3(4), 29; https://doi.org/10.3390/children3040029 - 14 Nov 2016
Cited by 1
Abstract
Tailored pain management strategies are urgently needed for youth with co-occurring chronic pain and obesity; however, prior to developing such strategies, we need to understand parent perspectives on weight in the context of pediatric chronic pain. Participants in this study included 233 parents [...] Read more.
Tailored pain management strategies are urgently needed for youth with co-occurring chronic pain and obesity; however, prior to developing such strategies, we need to understand parent perspectives on weight in the context of pediatric chronic pain. Participants in this study included 233 parents of patients presenting to a multidisciplinary pediatric chronic pain clinic. Parents completed a brief survey prior to their child’s initial appointment; questions addressed parents’ perceptions of their child’s weight, and their perceptions of multiple aspects of the relationship between their child’s weight and chronic pain. The majority (64%) of parents of youth with obesity accurately rated their child’s weight; this group of parents was also more concerned (p < 0.05) about their child’s weight than parents of youth with a healthy weight. However, the majority of parents of youth with obesity did not think their child’s weight contributed to his/her pain, or that weight was relevant to their child’s pain or pain treatment. Overall, only half of all parents saw discussions of weight, nutrition, and physical activity as important to treating their child’s pain. Results support the need for addressing parents’ perceptions of their child’s weight status, and educating parents about the relationship between excessive weight and chronic pain. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Chronic and Recurrent Pain) Printed Edition available
Open AccessArticle
Parental Protectiveness Mediates the Association between Parent-Perceived Child Self-Efficacy and Health Outcomes in Pediatric Functional Abdominal Pain Disorder
Children 2016, 3(3), 15; https://doi.org/10.3390/children3030015 - 19 Sep 2016
Cited by 2
Abstract
Previous studies have shown that parental protectiveness is associated with increased pain and disability in Functional Abdominal Pain Disorder (FAPD) but the role that perceived child self-efficacy may play remains unclear. One reason why parents may react protectively towards their child’s pain is [...] Read more.
Previous studies have shown that parental protectiveness is associated with increased pain and disability in Functional Abdominal Pain Disorder (FAPD) but the role that perceived child self-efficacy may play remains unclear. One reason why parents may react protectively towards their child’s pain is that they perceive their child to be unable to cope or function normally while in pain (perceived low self-efficacy). This study sought to examine (a) the association between parent-perceived child pain self-efficacy and child health outcomes (symptom severity and disability); and (b) the role of parental protectiveness as a mediator of this association. Participants were 316 parents of children aged 7–12 years with FAPD. Parents completed measures of perceived child self-efficacy when in pain, their own protective responses to their child’s pain, child gastrointestinal (GI) symptom severity, and child functional disability. Parent-perceived child self-efficacy was inversely associated with parent-reported child GI symptom severity and disability, and parental protectiveness mediated these associations. These results suggest that parents who perceive their child to have low self-efficacy to cope with pain respond more protectively when they believe he/she is in pain, and this, in turn, is associated with higher levels of GI symptoms and disability in their child. This finding suggests that directly addressing parent beliefs about their child’s ability to manage pain should be included as a component of FAPD, and potentially other child treatment interventions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Chronic and Recurrent Pain) Printed Edition available
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Open AccessArticle
Maternal Anxiety and Children’s Laboratory Pain: The Mediating Role of Solicitousness
Children 2016, 3(2), 10; https://doi.org/10.3390/children3020010 - 20 Jun 2016
Cited by 4
Abstract
There has been limited empirical examination of how parent variables such as anxiety and solicitousness collectively impact child pain response. We sought to examine the relationships among maternal anxiety, solicitous parenting, and children’s laboratory anxiety and pain intensity in children with chronic pain. [...] Read more.
There has been limited empirical examination of how parent variables such as anxiety and solicitousness collectively impact child pain response. We sought to examine the relationships among maternal anxiety, solicitous parenting, and children’s laboratory anxiety and pain intensity in children with chronic pain. Participants included 80 children and adolescents (ages 8–18) with chronic pain and their mothers. Children completed questionnaires and lab pain tasks measuring their parents’ solicitous parenting, pressure, cold and heat pain anticipatory anxiety and pain intensity. Using bootstrapping analysis, maternal anxiety predicted child anticipatory anxiety and pain intensity in girls with chronic pain, which was mediated by the child’s report of parental solicitousness. For boys with chronic pain, maternal anxiety predicted boys’ anticipatory anxiety and pain intensity, with no support for mediation. This study adds to the growing literature demonstrating the impact of maternal anxiety on children’s pain. The study highlights the importance of considering parents in treatment designed to reduce children’s pain. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Chronic and Recurrent Pain) Printed Edition available
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Review

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Open AccessReview
Evidence-Based Psychological Interventions for the Management of Pediatric Chronic Pain: New Directions in Research and Clinical Practice
Children 2017, 4(2), 9; https://doi.org/10.3390/children4020009 - 04 Feb 2017
Cited by 18
Abstract
Over the past 20 years our knowledge about evidence-based psychological interventions for pediatric chronic pain has dramatically increased. Overall, the evidence in support of psychological interventions for pediatric chronic pain is strong, demonstrating positive psychological and behavioral effects for a variety of children [...] Read more.
Over the past 20 years our knowledge about evidence-based psychological interventions for pediatric chronic pain has dramatically increased. Overall, the evidence in support of psychological interventions for pediatric chronic pain is strong, demonstrating positive psychological and behavioral effects for a variety of children with a range of pain conditions. However, wide scale access to effective psychologically-based pain management treatments remains a challenge for many children who suffer with pain. Increasing access to care and reducing persistent biomedical biases that inhibit attainment of psychological services are a central focus of current pain treatment interventions. Additionally, as the number of evidence-based treatments increase, tailoring treatments to a child or family’s particular needs is increasingly possible. This article will (1) discuss the theoretical frameworks as well as the specific psychological skills and strategies that currently hold promise as effective agents of change; (2) review and summarize trends in the development of well-researched outpatient interventions over the past ten years; and (3) discuss future directions for intervention research on pediatric chronic pain. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Chronic and Recurrent Pain) Printed Edition available
Open AccessReview
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for Pediatric Chronic Pain: Theory and Application
Children 2017, 4(2), 10; https://doi.org/10.3390/children4020010 - 30 Jan 2017
Cited by 15
Abstract
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is a third wave behavior therapy approach which aims to increase engagement in activities that bring meaning, vitality, and value to the lives of individuals experiencing persistent pain, discomfort, or distress. This goal is particularly relevant when these [...] Read more.
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is a third wave behavior therapy approach which aims to increase engagement in activities that bring meaning, vitality, and value to the lives of individuals experiencing persistent pain, discomfort, or distress. This goal is particularly relevant when these aversive experiences cannot be effectively avoided or when avoidance efforts risk their exacerbation, all of which may be common experiences in children and adolescents with chronic pain conditions. The primary aim of the present paper is to review and summarize the extant literature on the application, utility, and evidence for using ACT with pediatric chronic pain populations by: (1) defining the theoretical assumptions of the ACT model; (2) summarizing research study findings and relevant measures from the published literature; and (3) critically discussing the strengths, limitations and areas in need of further development. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Chronic and Recurrent Pain) Printed Edition available
Open AccessReview
Pain Neuroscience Education: State of the Art and Application in Pediatrics
Children 2016, 3(4), 43; https://doi.org/10.3390/children3040043 - 21 Dec 2016
Cited by 16
Abstract
Chronic pain is a widespread problem in the field of pediatrics. Many interventions to ameliorate pain-related dysfunction have a biobehavioral focus. As treatments for chronic pain (e.g., increased movement) often stand in stark contrast to treatments for an acute injury (e.g., rest), providing [...] Read more.
Chronic pain is a widespread problem in the field of pediatrics. Many interventions to ameliorate pain-related dysfunction have a biobehavioral focus. As treatments for chronic pain (e.g., increased movement) often stand in stark contrast to treatments for an acute injury (e.g., rest), providing a solid rationale for treatment is necessary to gain patient and parent buy-in. Most pain treatment interventions incorporate psychoeducation, or pain neuroscience education (PNE), as an essential component, and in some cases, as a stand-alone approach. The current topical review focuses on the state of pain neuroscience education and its application to pediatric chronic pain. As very little research has examined pain neuroscience education in pediatrics, we aim to describe this emerging area and catalyze further work on this important topic. As the present literature has generally focused on adults with chronic pain, pain neuroscience education merits further attention in the realm of pediatric pain in order to be tailored and implemented in this population. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Chronic and Recurrent Pain) Printed Edition available
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Open AccessReview
Chronic Pain in Children and Adolescents: Diagnosis and Treatment of Primary Pain Disorders in Head, Abdomen, Muscles and Joints
Children 2016, 3(4), 42; https://doi.org/10.3390/children3040042 - 10 Dec 2016
Cited by 22
Abstract
Primary pain disorders (formerly “functional pain syndromes”) are common, under-diagnosed and under-treated in children and teenagers. This manuscript reviews key aspects which support understanding the development of pediatric chronic pain, points to the current pediatric chronic pain terminology, addresses effective treatment strategies, and [...] Read more.
Primary pain disorders (formerly “functional pain syndromes”) are common, under-diagnosed and under-treated in children and teenagers. This manuscript reviews key aspects which support understanding the development of pediatric chronic pain, points to the current pediatric chronic pain terminology, addresses effective treatment strategies, and discusses the evidence-based use of pharmacology. Common symptoms of an underlying pain vulnerability present in the three most common chronic pain disorders in pediatrics: primary headaches, centrally mediated abdominal pain syndromes, and/or chronic/recurrent musculoskeletal and joint pain. A significant number of children with repeated acute nociceptive pain episodes develop chronic pain in addition to or as a result of their underlying medical condition “chronic-on-acute pain.” We provide description of the structure and process of our interdisciplinary, rehabilitative pain clinic in Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA with accompanying data in the treatment of chronic pain symptoms that persist beyond the expected time of healing. An interdisciplinary approach combining (1) rehabilitation; (2) integrative medicine/active mind-body techniques; (3) psychology; and (4) normalizing daily school attendance, sports, social life and sleep will be presented. As a result of restored function, pain improves and commonly resolves. Opioids are not indicated for primary pain disorders, and other medications, with few exceptions, are usually not first-line therapy. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Chronic and Recurrent Pain) Printed Edition available
Open AccessReview
Psychological Neuromodulatory Treatments for Young People with Chronic Pain
Children 2016, 3(4), 41; https://doi.org/10.3390/children3040041 - 06 Dec 2016
Cited by 1
Abstract
The treatment of young people with chronic pain is a complex endeavor. Many of these youth do not obtain adequate relief from available interventions. Psychological neuromodulatory treatments have been shown to have potential benefit for adults with chronic pain. Here, we review and [...] Read more.
The treatment of young people with chronic pain is a complex endeavor. Many of these youth do not obtain adequate relief from available interventions. Psychological neuromodulatory treatments have been shown to have potential benefit for adults with chronic pain. Here, we review and summarize the available information about the efficacy of three promising psychological neuromodulatory treatments—neurofeedback, meditation and hypnosis—when provided to young people with chronic pain. A total of 16 articles were identified and reviewed. The findings from these studies show that hypnotic treatments are effective in reducing pain intensity for a variety of pediatric chronic pain problems, although research suggests variability in outcomes as a function of the specific pain problem treated. There are too few studies evaluating the efficacy of neurofeedback or meditation training in young people with chronic pain to draw firm conclusions regarding their efficacy. However, preliminary data indicate that these treatments could potentially have positive effects on a variety of outcomes (e.g., pain intensity, frequency of pain episodes, physical and psychological function), at least in the short term. Clinical trials are needed to evaluate the effects of neurofeedback and meditation training, and research is needed to identify the moderators of treatment benefits as well as better understand the mechanisms underlying the efficacy of all three of these treatments. The findings from such research could enhance overall treatment efficacy by: (1) providing an empirical basis for better patient-treatment matching; and (2) identifying specific mechanisms that could be targeted with treatment. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Chronic and Recurrent Pain) Printed Edition available
Open AccessReview
Mental Health Comorbidities in Pediatric Chronic Pain: A Narrative Review of Epidemiology, Models, Neurobiological Mechanisms and Treatment
Children 2016, 3(4), 40; https://doi.org/10.3390/children3040040 - 02 Dec 2016
Cited by 19
Abstract
Chronic pain during childhood and adolescence can lead to persistent pain problems and mental health disorders into adulthood. Posttraumatic stress disorders and depressive and anxiety disorders are mental health conditions that co-occur at high rates in both adolescent and adult samples, and are [...] Read more.
Chronic pain during childhood and adolescence can lead to persistent pain problems and mental health disorders into adulthood. Posttraumatic stress disorders and depressive and anxiety disorders are mental health conditions that co-occur at high rates in both adolescent and adult samples, and are linked to heightened impairment and disability. Comorbid chronic pain and psychopathology has been explained by the presence of shared neurobiology and mutually maintaining cognitive-affective and behavioral factors that lead to the development and/or maintenance of both conditions. Particularly within the pediatric chronic pain population, these factors are embedded within the broader context of the parent–child relationship. In this review, we will explore the epidemiology of, and current working models explaining, these comorbidities. Particular emphasis will be made on shared neurobiological mechanisms, given that the majority of previous research to date has centered on cognitive, affective, and behavioral mechanisms. Parental contributions to co-occurring chronic pain and psychopathology in childhood and adolescence will be discussed. Moreover, we will review current treatment recommendations and future directions for both research and practice. We argue that the integration of biological and behavioral approaches will be critical to sufficiently address why these comorbidities exist and how they can best be targeted in treatment. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Chronic and Recurrent Pain) Printed Edition available
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Open AccessReview
A Broad Consideration of Risk Factors in Pediatric Chronic Pain: Where to Go from Here?
Children 2016, 3(4), 38; https://doi.org/10.3390/children3040038 - 30 Nov 2016
Cited by 8
Abstract
Pediatric chronic pain is a significant problem associated with substantial functional impairment. A variety of risk factors have been found to be associated with chronic pain in youth. The greatest amount of evidence appears to support that temperament, anxiety, depression, subjective experience of [...] Read more.
Pediatric chronic pain is a significant problem associated with substantial functional impairment. A variety of risk factors have been found to be associated with chronic pain in youth. The greatest amount of evidence appears to support that temperament, anxiety, depression, subjective experience of stress, passive coping strategies, sleep problems, other somatic-related problems, and parent and/or family factors are important variables. However, a great deal of this research focuses on a single risk factor or on multiple risk factors in isolation. Much of the literature utilizes older diagnostic criteria and would benefit from replication, larger sample sizes, and comparison across pain disorders. Problems also exist with disagreement across definitions, resulting in inconsistency or unclear use of terms. Furthermore, recent consideration has suggested that outcome measures should include functional disability in addition to pain. A second generation of research is needed to shed light on the complex interactions that likely play a role in the transition from acute to chronic pain. Building on recent calls for changes in research in this area, we propose the next steps for this research, which involve consideration of both biopsychosocial and developmental contexts. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Chronic and Recurrent Pain) Printed Edition available
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Open AccessReview
Goal Pursuit in Youth with Chronic Pain
Children 2016, 3(4), 36; https://doi.org/10.3390/children3040036 - 22 Nov 2016
Cited by 6
Abstract
Children and adolescents frequently experience chronic pain that can disrupt their usual activities and lead to poor physical and emotional functioning. The fear avoidance model of pain with an emphasis on the maladaptive behaviors that lead to activity avoidance has guided research and [...] Read more.
Children and adolescents frequently experience chronic pain that can disrupt their usual activities and lead to poor physical and emotional functioning. The fear avoidance model of pain with an emphasis on the maladaptive behaviors that lead to activity avoidance has guided research and clinical practice. However, this model does not take into consideration variability in responses to pain, in particular the active pursuit of goals despite pain. This review aims to introduce a novel conceptualization of children’s activity engagement versus avoidance using the framework of goal pursuit. We propose a new model of Goal Pursuit in Pediatric Chronic Pain, which proposes that the child’s experience of pain is modified by child factors (e.g., goal salience, motivation/energy, pain-related anxiety/fear, and self-efficacy) and parent factors (e.g., parent expectations for pain, protectiveness behaviors, and parent anxiety), which lead to specific goal pursuit behaviors. Goal pursuit is framed as engagement or avoidance of valued goals when in pain. Next, we recommend that research in youth with chronic pain should be reframed to account for the pursuit of valued goals within the context of pain and suggest directions for future research. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Chronic and Recurrent Pain) Printed Edition available
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Open AccessReview
Specialized Rehabilitation Programs for Children and Adolescents with Severe Disabling Chronic Pain: Indications, Treatment and Outcomes
Children 2016, 3(4), 33; https://doi.org/10.3390/children3040033 - 21 Nov 2016
Cited by 11
Abstract
Children and adolescents with highly disabling chronic pain of high intensity and frequency are admitted to specialized pain rehabilitation programs. Some barriers to obtaining this specialized care include a lack of availability of treatment centers, a perceived social stigma and individual barriers such [...] Read more.
Children and adolescents with highly disabling chronic pain of high intensity and frequency are admitted to specialized pain rehabilitation programs. Some barriers to obtaining this specialized care include a lack of availability of treatment centers, a perceived social stigma and individual barriers such as socioeconomic status. Specialized rehabilitation programs for severe disabling chronic pain worldwide have similarities regarding admission criteria, structure and therapeutic orientation. They differ, however, regarding their exclusion criteria and program descriptions. The short- and long-term effectiveness of some rehabilitation programs is well documented. All countries should promote the establishment of future pediatric pain centers to improve the health care of children and adolescents suffering from severe chronic pain. Standardized reporting guidelines should be developed to describe treatments and outcomes to enable comparability across treatment centers. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Chronic and Recurrent Pain) Printed Edition available
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Open AccessReview
Beyond Acute Pain: Understanding Chronic Pain in Infancy
Children 2016, 3(4), 26; https://doi.org/10.3390/children3040026 - 09 Nov 2016
Cited by 4
Abstract
This topical review presents the current challenges in defining chronic pain in infants, summarizes evidence from animal and human infant studies regarding the biological processes necessary for chronic pain signaling, and presents observational/experiential evidence from clinical experts. A literature search of four databases [...] Read more.
This topical review presents the current challenges in defining chronic pain in infants, summarizes evidence from animal and human infant studies regarding the biological processes necessary for chronic pain signaling, and presents observational/experiential evidence from clinical experts. A literature search of four databases (CINAHL, EMBASE, PsycINFO, and MEDLINE) was conducted, along with hand searches of reference lists. Evidence from animal studies suggest that important neurophysiological mechanisms, such as the availability of key neurotransmitters needed for maintenance of chronic pain, may be immature or absent in the developing neonate. In some cases, human infants may be significantly less likely to develop chronic pain. However, evidence also points to altered pain perception, such as allodynia and hyperalgesia, with significant injury. Moreover, clinicians and parents in pediatric intensive care settings describe groups of infants with altered behavioral responses to repeated or prolonged painful stimuli, yet agreement on a working definition of chronic pain in infancy remains elusive. While our understanding of infant chronic pain is still in the rudimentary stages, a promising avenue for the future assessment of chronic pain in infancy would be to develop a clinical tool that uses both neurophysiological approaches and clinical perceptions already presented in the literature. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Chronic and Recurrent Pain) Printed Edition available
Open AccessReview
Attachment and Chronic Pain in Children and Adolescents
Children 2016, 3(4), 21; https://doi.org/10.3390/children3040021 - 25 Oct 2016
Cited by 3
Abstract
Although attachment theory is not new, its theoretical implications for the pediatric chronic pain context have not been thoroughly considered, and the empirical implications and potential clinical applications are worth exploring. The attachment framework broadly focuses on interactions between a child’s developing self-regulatory [...] Read more.
Although attachment theory is not new, its theoretical implications for the pediatric chronic pain context have not been thoroughly considered, and the empirical implications and potential clinical applications are worth exploring. The attachment framework broadly focuses on interactions between a child’s developing self-regulatory systems and their caregiver’s responses. These interactions are believed to create a template for how individuals will relate to others in the future, and may help account for normative and pathological patterns of emotions and behavior throughout life. This review outlines relevant aspects of the attachment framework to the pediatric chronic pain context. The theoretical and empirical literature is reviewed regarding the potential role of attachment-based constructs such as vulnerability and maintaining factors of pediatric chronic pain. The nature and targets of attachment-based pediatric interventions are considered, with particular focus on relevance for the pediatric chronic pain context. The potential role of attachment style in the transition from acute to chronic pain is considered, with further research directions outlined. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Chronic and Recurrent Pain) Printed Edition available
Open AccessReview
Rewiring of Developing Spinal Nociceptive Circuits by Neonatal Injury and Its Implications for Pediatric Chronic Pain
Children 2016, 3(3), 16; https://doi.org/10.3390/children3030016 - 20 Sep 2016
Cited by 2
Abstract
Significant evidence now suggests that neonatal tissue damage can evoke long-lasting changes in pain sensitivity, but the underlying cellular and molecular mechanisms remain unclear. This review highlights recent advances in our understanding of how injuries during a critical period of early life modulate [...] Read more.
Significant evidence now suggests that neonatal tissue damage can evoke long-lasting changes in pain sensitivity, but the underlying cellular and molecular mechanisms remain unclear. This review highlights recent advances in our understanding of how injuries during a critical period of early life modulate the functional organization of synaptic networks in the superficial dorsal horn (SDH) of the spinal cord in a manner that favors the excessive amplification of ascending nociceptive signaling to the brain, which likely contributes to the generation and/or maintenance of pediatric chronic pain. These persistent alterations in synaptic function within the SDH may also contribute to the well-documented “priming” of developing pain pathways by neonatal tissue injury. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Chronic and Recurrent Pain) Printed Edition available
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