Childhood Pain Linked to Adult Pain

Childhood pain seen in one in six adult patients with pain

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) While chronic pain is rare in young children, kids and teens can and do develop chronic pain conditions. New research shows that these kids may have a greater chance of having the same issues as adults. 

A recent study found that one in six adults with pain had a history of chronic pain when they were children or adolescents. These adults had widespread and psychological side effects. They also had neuropathy, which is nerve damage.

"Talk with your doctor if you’re experiencing chronic pain."

This study was conducted by Afton Hasset, PsyD, of the University of Michigan Medical School, and colleagues.

These researchers speculated that adults who said they had pain as kids would be more likely to have more severe pain that is neuropathic (pain from nerve damage) and that would qualify as fibromyalgia, a chronic disorder characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain, fatigue and tenderness in localized areas.

In this study, 1,045 people, 18 years and older, filled out questionnaires at the University of Michigan Back & Pain Center from November 2010 through March 2012.

The average age of these participants was 50 years old, with more females than males. They were mainly Caucasian and married.

The participants were being treated for various conditions, including spine and nonspine musculoskeletal pain (63 percent), nervous system disorders (16 percent), headache and facial pain (9 percent), abdominal issues (8 percent) and other conditions (2 percent).

These patients answered questions about their pain, pain treatment, family history, physical and psychological issues. Questions also probed their childhood pain, such as how old they were when the pain started.

Results showed that almost 17 percent, or 176 adult chronic pain patients, had a history of chronic pain as kids or teens. A total of 79 percent said that the childhood pain continues today.

A total of 68 percent of adults reporting childhood chronic pain were female.

People with childhood pain also said their pain was more neuropathic and widespread (85 percent said they had pain in three or more areas) as opposed to regional. People with childhood pain had three times the likelihood of being classified as having fibromyalgia compared to those who said they did not have childhood pain as kids.

Also, people with childhood pain were twice as likely to have relatives with chronic pain compared to those without such pain.

Furthermore, those with childhood pain were three times as likely to have relatives with depression and/or anxiety compared to those without childhood pain.

The study was published in the November issue of The Journal of Pain.

The research was funded by the Department of Anesthesiology of the University of Michigan Medical School. The authors declared no conflicts of interest.

Review Date: 
December 20, 2013
Last Updated:
February 10, 2014