Eyecatcher For doctors / therapists

Chronic pain conditions in childhood and adolescence

  • Adolescent with abdominal pain
  • Girl with headaches

An estimated 350,000 children and adolescents in Germany currently live with severely disabling chronic pain – and the number is increasing. The children suffer from headaches, abdominal pain as well as muscle and joint pain.

Apart from the experience of pain itself, negative consequences arise in different areas of the child’s life, such as absence from school, disability in free time and family life, as well as anxiety or depression associated with the chronic pain. These all constitute an immense burden for the child and family.

Incidence of chronic pain in childhood and adolescence


Figure on children and adolescents with disability due to Pain

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Recommended literature

Picture of the Therapy Manual

Dobe, M. & Zernikow, B. Practical Treatment Options for Chronic Pain in Children and Adolescents, Springer, 2019

Many children and adolescents suffer from chronic pain. If this leads to significant disability in the child or adolescent and in family life, a pain condition is present, regardless of the cause. Therapy of the pain condition in childhood and adolescence is complex, since many contributing factors and thought traps must be considered. This manual describes, in practical terms and with many case examples, the features as well as the therapeutic interventions of the therapy of a child or adolescent with a pain condition. The manual focuses on the description of the frequently-evaluated inpatient therapy program of the German Paediatric Pain Centre, many components of which can also be successfully applied in an outpatient setting. A further focus of the manual is the inclusion of the family system as well as the adaptation of pain therapy to co-morbid psychological, family or physical problems.

Dobe, M. & Zernikow, B. How to Stop Chronic Pain in Children: A Practical Guide. Translated from the German by Beverley Stewart. Carl-Auer-Systeme Verlag GmbH, 2014.

Zernikow, B. (Hrsg.) [Pain management for children and young adults], 5th completely revised and expanded edition, Springer, 2015.

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