Do your kids complain about belly pain? Do you dismiss it as anxiety? Please don't say you tell them they don't have a stomachache--or that it's all in their pretty little heads. Belly pain that can't be linked to a physical disorder is called functional abdominal pain, and writing at the New York Times "18 and Under" blog, Dr. Perri Klass explains what's behind this type of pain in kids and how it might get started:
The problem may start with some initial insult, an infection or inflammation that may affect pain pathways in the child — and may also set up psychological patterns and anxieties in the child and response patterns and anxieties in the parent.
And then the child continues to be extremely aware of sensations coming from the gastrointestinal tract, even when the initial illness is over. The challenge to the parents — passed on to the pediatrician — is how diligently these pains should be investigated, how many tests a child should be subjected to, how much money should be spent.
And while this type of pain isn't "all in the head," one doctor says that "what helps the children is working with the brain more than working with the gut" in trying to fix the problem.
Great article about a common problem.