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If your child complains about abdominal pain that can't be explained, that doesn't mean the pain isn't real. What your child may be experiencing is centrally mediated abdominal pain syndrome.
Fortunately, the Cook Children's Pain Management team offers care for children and adolescents who are experiencing unexplained abdominal pain.
Abdominal pain that cannot be explained by a test or a procedure is known as centrally mediated abdominal pain syndrome (CAPS). CAPS can be constant or may come and go. Although the exact cause is not known, nerve signals or chemicals from the brain or gut may cause the gut to be more sensitive to triggers that normally do not cause pain. Severe belly pain that interferes with daily activities and occur three or more times over a three month period is called centrally mediated abdominal pain syndrome.
Usually the pain is located around the belly button; however the pattern or location of abdominal pain is not always predictable. The pain may occur suddenly or slowly increase in severity. Some children with centrally mediated abdominal pain may experience nausea, vomiting, or a feeling of fullness after a few bites of food. Others may experience pain with bowel movements.
Abdominal pain could be due to a number of causes that should be considered when evaluating for centrally mediated abdominal pain syndrome. The diagnosis of CAPS is often based on the report of symptoms that cannot be explained by a test or procedure and normal physical examination.
If no specific cause is found and centrally mediated abdominal pain syndrome is suspected, your child needs to be reassured that his or her abdominal pain is accepted as a real disorder and not something that is imagined. The goal of managing centrally mediated abdominal pain syndrome is to provide a satisfactory quality of life through support, education, medication, and better coping skills. A supportive and understanding environment at home and school is important to keep your child physically and mentally healthy.
If your child is suffering from pain, you probably have lots of questions. We can help. If you would like to schedule an appointment, refer a patient or speak to our staff, please call our offices at 682-885-7246.