Children with Inflammatory Bowel Disease in Remission Experience Pain Differently than Pediatric Functional Abdominal Pain Patients

Fear avoidance contributes to disability and pain in children with functional abdominal pain but not inflammatory bowel disease, according to a study presented at the annual meeting of the American Psychosomatic Society.

Fear avoidance contributes to disability and pain in children with functional abdominal pain (FAP), but not in those with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), according to a study presented at the annual meeting of the American Psychosomatic Society (APS).

Unlike IBD pain, which is caused by gut inflammation and alternates with periods of remission, FAP pain occurs without a specific cause. But in FAP and IBD in remission alike, no disease pathology currently explains the pain.

Researchers from the University of North Carolina School of Medicine and the University of Washington tested 129 children with IBD in remission and 200 children with FAP, all of whom were aged between 8-18 years. Among the children with FAP, fear, avoidance, and increased catastrophizing all lead to increased disability and pain, but that was not the case for children with IBD in remission.

“How a child feels about and reacts to the pain is as important as the severity of pain in determining how much the pain will affect a child’s life,” Miranda van Tilburg, PhD, said in a press release. “We hypothesized that fear avoidance would have a similar influence on pain outcomes in both disorders, but this is not what we found.”

From their results, the scientists extrapolated that fear avoidance most likely contributes to disability and pain in children with FAP, but not in children with IBD in remission.