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Pain. 2006 Mar;121(1-2):145-50. Epub 2006 Feb 10.

Recurrent pain symptoms in young schoolchildren are often multiple.

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Department of Clinical Sciences, Paediatrics, Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden.


Different recurrent pain symptoms in children have mainly been investigated separately and comprehensive studies exploring the relationship between several of the most common recurrent pain symptoms simultaneously are few. The present study investigated frequency and co-occurrence of recurrent headache, stomach-ache, and backache in young schoolchildren (6-13 years of age). A randomized cluster sample of 1155 children from grades 0 to 6 completed a questionnaire; the youngest children helped by their parent. The results showed that 2/3 of the children reported having pain at least once every month, 1/3 at least once a week, and 6% reported experiencing pain symptoms every day. Half of the children with recurrent pain symptoms reported pain symptoms from several body locations, and, in children with weekly pain symptoms, two out of three reported multiple pain. Multiple, but not single, pain symptoms became more prevalent with age. The only difference between girls and boys was a higher prevalence of multiple weekly pain symptoms in girls. In conclusion, this study shows that a great number of young schoolchildren suffer from frequently recurring and co-occurring pain symptoms, indicating an urgent need for preventive and curative programs starting already in the first school years. Furthermore, the high prevalence of multiple symptoms indicates that recurrent pain symptoms in children, particularly frequent symptoms, should be regarded a potential general pain disorder rather than merely a localized body disorder.

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