Child Orthopedics

Frequently Asked Questions

I notice my nine year old seems to miss a lot of school for headaches and stomachaches. How common is this?

A recent study from the Division of Child Psychiatry at the David Geffen School of Medicine in L.A. suggests a high percentage of children suffer from a variety of chronic pain.

Girls may suffer from problems slightly more often than boys (55 per cent girls, 45 per cent boys). The average age of the children studied was around 14 years old. Three-fourths were Caucasian. The most common type of pain was headache (48 per cent) followed by abdominal pain (40 per cent). Back, chest, foot, or limb pain made up a small proportion of reported pain.

Often there is a suspected behavioral, social, or psychologic reason for the reports of pain. Children are better able to manage their pain and function despite the pain when they have a high degree of self-efficacy.

Self-efficacy is the belief that a person has the ability to perform a behavior or action. Patients with a high sense of self-efficacy are more likely to respond to treatment with a positive outcome. Children with a low sense of their own abilities are more prone to anxiety, depression, and low levels of function.

Brenda Bursch, et al. Preliminary Validation of a Self-Efficacy Scale for Child Functioning Despite Chronic Pain (Child and Parent Versions). In Pain. November 2006. Vol. 125. No. 1-2. Pp. 35-42.

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