Chronic Pain and Obesity Within a Pediatric Interdisciplinary Pain Clinic Setting: A Preliminary Examination of Current Relationships and Future Directions

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Abstract

Objectives:

Pediatric obesity and chronic pain are 2 of the most significant public health crises affecting youth today. Despite the high number of youth experiencing both chronic pain and obesity, little research has been done examining their relationship. This study aims to both replicate and extend this research base.

Methods:

A retrospective chart review of 99 patients presenting for evaluation in a pediatric pain clinic was conducted. Demographic information, including patient weight status, and self-report measures completed by both patients and their parents, including the Pain Frequency-Severity-Duration scale, the Functional Disability Inventory, and the Pain Catastrophizing Scale were examined.

Results:

Abdominal pain was the most frequently reported primary pain diagnosis category, with headache, diffuse musculoskeletal, localized musculoskeletal, and back pain categories reported from greatest to least frequency. Results show that 29% of our sample was obese. Age was related to weight status such that older children were more likely to have a higher body mass index. Among school-aged children, a higher body mass index percentile was associated with greater parent-reported pain catastrophizing. Obese youth had higher parent-reported Functional Disability Inventory scores than those in the normal weight group. Post hoc comparisons identified that this finding was only significant for girls. Further, obese youth were more likely to have a longer pain duration than those classified as normal weight.

Discussion:

The results of this study add to the growing literature regarding the importance of taking weight status into account when intervening with youth with chronic pain.

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