Eyecatcher For adolescents

What is chronic pain?

  • Picture of vicious cycle of pain, medical consultation

We speak of chronic pain when pain occurs constantly or repeatedly over a period of several months. Chronic pain always has several causes. The simultaneous occurrence of physical and emotional problems will often lead to the development of pain memory. This pain memory can at some point give rise to pain itself.

An example: An adolescent has occasional troublesome headaches. She reads in the internet that headaches can be caused by brain tumors, or cancer, and is afraid. She doesn’t know that her headaches are actually tension headaches, completely harmless headaches that occur with stress. Every time she gets a headache, she thinks it’s cancer. She’s worried, the tension headaches occur all the more often, a vicious cycle is set in motion, and finally it leads to constant headaches.

Pain therapy

In treating chronic pain it is very important to consider all factors involved. In our example it would mean that the young woman needs a physical examination (to exclude a tumor), a strategy to deal with tension headaches (for example, doing sports), an explanation of the vicious cycle of pain (so she understands where the headaches are coming from) and instructions on outwitting her pain memory (for example, by means of distraction exercises).

With this simple but conclusive approach a large part of chronic pain can be successfully treated.

Prevalence of chronic pain in childhood and adolescence


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