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Chronic Functional Abdominal Pain

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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 expriencing is chronic functional abdominal pain. Fortunately, the Cook Children's Pain Management team offers care for children and adolescents who are experiencing unexplained abdominal pain.

What causes chronic functional abdominal pain?

Abdominal pain that cannot be explained by a test or a procedure is known as functional abdominal pain. Functional abdominal pain 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 occurs 3 or more times over a 3 month period is called chronic functional abdominal pain.

What are the symptoms?

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 chronic functional abdominal pain may experience nausea, vomiting or a feeling of fullness after a few bites of food. Others may experience pain with bowel movements.

How is it diagnosed?

Abdominal pain could be due to a number of causes that should be considered when evaluating for chronic functional abdominal pain. The diagnosis of functional abdominal pain is often based on the report of symptoms and normal physical examination.

How is chronic functional abdominal pain treated?

If no specific cause is found and functional abdominal pain 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 functional abdominal pain is to provide a satisfactory quality of life through support, education, medicines and better coping skills. A supportive and understanding environment at home and school is important to keep your child physically and mentally healthy.

We're here to help.

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.