Pediatric Chronic Abdominal Pain
What is chronic abdominal pain?
Chronic abdominal pain is a stomachache that reoccurs for long periods of time and caused by one of several known or unknown conditions.
What are the types of chronic abdominal pain?
There are two types of chronic abdominal pain:
- Functional abdominal pain (non-organic abdominal pain) — This type is idiopathic, meaning there isn’t an immediate, identifiable reason. This commonly happens with children, as it can be hard for them to accurately describe the pain or where it’s located.
- Explained pain — This type means there is a specific reason for the pain that can be identified.
What causes chronic abdominal pain?
Pediatric chronic abdominal pain can be caused by unknown reasons (idiopathic), or by one or more conditions affecting a child’s abdominal region (lower chest to upper pelvis area). It becomes a chronic pain issue when it’s a consistent problem that reoccurs (repeats) for days or even years. Each condition has its own cause and average age of diagnosis, as outlined below.
What is unexplained pain or functional abdominal pain?
Unexplained abdominal pain can be the result of an offset nerve or referred pain (also known as reflective pain). This occurs when the pain begins in one area, but the child feels it another region.
What is explained abdominal pain?
Chronic abdominal pain typically occurs for a specific reason, including those listed below.
- Abdominal epilepsy — seizures that occur in the abdomen (a rare condition).
- Abdominal migraines
- Acid reflux (GERD)
- Chronic appendicitis
- Crohn’s disease
- Food allergies
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- Ischemic bowel disease
- Ovarian cyst
- Lead poisoning
- Parasitic infection
- Sickle cell anemia
- Ulcerative colitis
What are the symptoms of chronic abdominal pain?
Symptoms will vary, depending on the location and source of condition, and include:
- Abdominal mass (lump)
- Abdominal pain
- Ascites (swelling)
- Blood in bowel movement or urine
- Weight loss