Managing Chronic Pain in Children and Adolescents: A Clinical Review

PM R. 2015 Nov;7(11 Suppl):S295-S315. doi: 10.1016/j.pmrj.2015.09.006.


Chronic pain in children and adolescents can be difficult for a single provider to manage in a busy clinical setting. Part of this difficulty is that pediatric chronic pain not only impacts the child but also the families of these children. In this review article, we discuss etiology and pathophysiology of chronic pain, along with variables that impact the severity of chronic pain and functional loss. We review diagnosis and management of selected chronic pain conditions in pediatric patients, including headache, low back pain, hypermobility, chronic fatigue, postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome, abdominal pain, fibromyalgia, and complex regional pain syndrome. For each condition, we create a road map that contains therapy prescriptions, exercise recommendations, and variables that may influence pain severity. Potential medications for these pain conditions and associated symptoms are reviewed. A multidisciplinary approach for managing children with these conditions, including pediatric pain rehabilitation programs, is emphasized. Lastly, we discuss psychological factors and interventions for pediatric chronic pain and potential complementary and alternative natural products and interventions.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Chronic Pain / etiology
  • Chronic Pain / physiopathology
  • Chronic Pain / therapy*
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Humans
  • Pain Management / methods*
  • Pain Measurement