Chronic Abdominal Pain

Abdominal pain is very common in children. Up to 10-25% of school-age children suffer from chronic abdominal pain. Abdominal pain can be mild and sometimes severe requiring high dose of pain killer. It is defined as 3 or more bouts of pain severe enough to limit activities, over a a period of 3 months. It implies no known cause has been identified. In other word, biochemical markers and imagings have failed to detect the abnormalities that would explain the cause of the abdominal pain. Hence the diagnosis is by exclusion of other known causes. The pain is usually generalised and lack of focal tenderness. Although it is not life threatening, the chronicity of pain can be troublesome to the patient affecting both physical and mental health. It has a big impact on patients’ daily activities and quality of health. Additionally, it also add on burden to the family members for example loss of work from parents and multiple clinic consultations.


Children who have long standing history of abdominal pain tend to be anxious and hypervigilant. Often they feel despondent and have low mood and easily fatigued.


There is no universal effective treatment of children with recurrent abdominal pain. Education, reassurance, cognitive behavioural therapy may be useful in alleviating the pain, Anti spasmodic medications are sometimes helpful in alleviating the pain.