Current Evidence-Based Interdisciplinary Treatment Options for Pediatric Musculoskeletal Pain

Curr Treatm Opt Rheumatol. 2018;4(3):223-234. doi: 10.1007/s40674-018-0101-7. Epub 2018 Jun 14.


Purpose of review: We review the prevalence of pediatric chronic musculoskeletal pain, the clinical need, the evidence for pharmacological, psychological, physical and, complementary approaches to pain management, and the possible future development of interdisciplinary and distance care.

Recent findings: We summarize the Cochrane Systematic Reviews on pharmacological interventions, which show a lack of evidence to support or refute the use of all classes of medication for the management of pain. The trials for NSAIDs did not show any superiority over comparators, nor did those of anti-depressants, and there are no trials for paracetamol, or of opioid medications. There are studies of psychological interventions which show promise and increasing support for physical therapy. The optimal approach remains an intensive interdisciplinary programmatic treatment, although this service is not available to most.

Summary: 1. Given the absence of evidence, a program of trials is now urgently required to establish the evidence base for analgesics that are widely prescribed for children and adolescents with chronic musculoskeletal pain. 2. Until that evidence becomes available, medicine review is an essential task in this population. 3. We need more examples and efficacy evaluations of intensive interdisciplinary interventions for chronic pain management, described in detail so that researchers and clinicians can unpack possible active treatment components. 4. Online treatments are likely to be critical in the future. We need to determine which aspects of treatment for which children and adolescents can be effectively delivered in this way, which will help reduce the burden of the large number of patients needing support from a small number of experts.

Keywords: Complementary and alternative medicine; Digital delivery; Interdisciplinary care; Lifestyle counseling; Pediatric chronic musculoskeletal pain.

Publication types

  • Review