Chronic pain in the pediatric and adolescent population is becoming increasingly prevalent. Juvenile fibromyalgia, complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS), functional abdominal pain, chronic headaches, joint hypermobility, and neuropathic pain are all chronic pain conditions that commonly occur in adults as well as pediatric patients. However, the presentations and approach to treatment can vary significantly between the two populations.
The typical profile of a chronic pediatric pain patient is a female (approximately 80%) and in the age range of 11 to 13 years (1). Usually, by the time the patient is seeking treatment, her function has decreased significantly. It is common for the patient to be a high achiever with good grades in school, and she may also be a high-level athlete, dancer, or gymnast. Commonly a major life event (such as divorce, death in the family, change in schools), as well as a trauma or medical diagnosis, will incite chronic pain. There is a large psychological component to chronic pain in the pediatric population. At Phoenix Children’s Hospital where we practice, we utilize a multidisciplinary, multimodal approach to treat our pediatric patients with complex and chronic pain.