Multisite Pain Is Highly Prevalent in Children with Functional Abdominal Pain Disorders and Is Associated with Increased Morbidity


      To characterize the types of multisite pain experienced by children with functional abdominal pain disorders (FAPDs) and to examine differences in psychosocial distress, functional disability, and health-related quality of life in children with multisite pain vs abdominal pain alone.

      Study design

      Cross-sectional study of children ages 7-17 years (n = 406) with pediatric Rome III FAPDs recruited from both primary and tertiary care between January 2009 and June 2018. Subjects completed 14-day pain and stool diaries, as well as validated questionnaires assessing abdominal and nonabdominal pain symptoms, anxiety, depression, functional disability, and health-related quality of life.


      In total, 295 (73%) children endorsed at least 1 co-occurring nonabdominal pain, thus, were categorized as having multisite pain with the following symptoms: 172 (42%) headaches, 143 (35%) chest pain, 134 (33%) muscle soreness, 110 (27%) back pain, 94 (23%) joint pain, and 87 (21%) extremity (arms and legs) pain. In addition, 200 children (49%) endorsed 2 or more nonabdominal pain symptoms. Participants with (vs without) multisite pain had significantly higher abdominal pain frequency (P < .001) and severity (P = .03), anxiety (P < .001), and depression (P < .001). Similarly, children with multisite pain (vs without) had significantly worse functional disability (P < .001) and health-related quality of life scores (P < .001). Increasing number of multisite pain sites (P < .001) was associated with increased functional disability when controlling for demographic and other clinical factors.


      In children with FAPDs, nonabdominal multisite pain is highly prevalent and is associated with increased psychosocial distress, abdominal pain frequency and severity, functional disability, and lower health-related quality of life.



      FAPD (Functional abdominal pain disorder), HRQOL (Health-related quality of life), IBS (Irritable bowel syndrome)
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