Brazilian Journal of Anesthesiology
Brazilian Journal of Anesthesiology
Narrative Review

Chronic non-cancer pain in adolescents: a narrative review

Carlos Silva; Dora Oliveira; Márcia Pestana-Santos; Francisco Portugal; Paula Capelo

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Chronic pain is defined as a pain lasting more than 3–6 months. It is estimated that 25% of the pediatric population may experience some kind of pain in this context. Adolescence, corresponding to a particular period of development, seems to present the ideal territory for the appearance of maladaptive mechanisms that can trigger episodes of persistent or recurrent pain.

A narrative review, in the PubMed/Medline database, in order to synthetize the available evidence in the approach to chronic pain in adolescents, highlighting its etiology, pathophysiology, diagnosis, and treatment.

Pain is seen as a result from the interaction of biological, psychological, individual, social, and environmental factors. Headache, abdominal pain, and musculoskeletal pain are frequent causes of chronic pain in adolescents. Pain not only has implications on adolescents, but also on family, society, and how they interact. It has implications on daily activities, physical capacity, school performance, and sleep, and is associated with psychiatric comorbidities, such as anxiety and depression. The therapeutic approach of pain must be multimodal and multidisciplinary, involving adolescents, their families, and environment, using pharmacological and non-pharmacological strategies.

Discussion and conclusion
The acknowledgment, prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of chronic pain in adolescent patients seem not to be ideal. The development of evidence-based forms of treatment, and the training of health professionals at all levels of care are essential for the diagnosis, treatment, and early referral of these patients.


Adolescent;  Chronic pain;  Pain management;  Pediatrics


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