Pains of Parents and Children

Chronic unexplained pain more likely in teens if their parents experience it

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D

(RxWiki News) Sometimes pain just decides to show up in our bodies seemingly out of nowhere. No warning, no apparent cause. It baffles doctors as much as it baffles us.

But researchers continue to try to learn about these mysterious pains that just show up.

They recently found that there is a family link with chronic pain. Teens are more likely to experience it if their parents do too – especially if they live together.

"Report any pain to your doctor."

The study, led by Gry B. Hoftun, MD, from the Department of Laboratory Medicine in Children's and Women's Health at Norwegian University of Science and Technology, looked at chronic pain in parents and their teenaged children.

They hoped to find out whether there was a link between both generations experiencing chronic pain that could be explained by socioeconomic factors or other shared social or psychological factors.

The data came from surveys about chronic pain from 5,370 participants, aged 13 to 18, and their parents.

The teens and parents were asked about how often they had experienced "chronic nonspecific pain" in the past three months.

Chronic nonspecific was defined as pain anywhere in the body that did not appear related to a specific cause of disease and which occurred at least once a week.

The researchers found teens were more likely to experience chronic pain if their mothers or fathers did.

They were even more likely to experience pain if both their parents reported experiencing it.

When the researchers took into account the socioeconomic and other psychological or social factors, they did not find any differences in their results.

However, when the researchers considered the results in light of family structure, they noticed a pattern. Teens who lived with their moms were more likely to have that nonspecific chronic pain if their moms did – but not if their fathers did.

The researchers said their findings suggest "a strong relationship between chronic pain in the parent and [child] living together."

They said this means that there appear to be shared factors in the environment that may be playing a part in what's causing the chronic pain.

What that may be will require more research.

The study was published November 19 in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine. The research was funded by the Norwegian Women's Public Health Association. The authors reported no conflicts of interest.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
November 19, 2012
Last Updated:
November 23, 2012