Chronic visceral pain is an unresolved neurobiological, medical and socioeconomic challenge. Up to 20% of the adult population suffer from chronic visceral pain and abdominal complaints constitute a prevalent symptom also in children and adolescents. Existing treatment approaches are often unsuccessful and patients typically suffer from multiple somatic and psychological symptoms. This complex situation requires integrative treatment approaches. This review summarizes current basic and clinical research on acute and chronic visceral pain with a focus on research groups in Germany. Despite significant clinical and scientific advances, a number of questions remain open calling for more funding to support research to elucidate the complex pathophysiology of chronic visceral pain and to develop and test new treatment approaches. Research support should focus on interdisciplinary concepts and methodology using expertise from multiple disciplines. The field would also benefit from a broader integration of visceral pain into teaching curricula in medicine and psychology and should aim to motivate young clinicians and scientists to strive for a career within this important and highly fascinating area.
Keywords: Chronic pain; Functional gastrointestinal disorders; Research, basic; Teaching; Treatment, integrative.