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Functional Abdominal Pain in children

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Functional Abdominal Pain (FAP) is a common pediatric condition characterized by chronic abdominal pain without an identifiable organic or structural cause. It is a diagnosis of exclusion, meaning that other medical conditions with similar symptoms must be ruled out before a diagnosis of FAP is made. Here are key points to understand about Functional Abdominal Pain in children:


  • FAP is defined by recurrent or chronic abdominal pain that occurs at least once per week for at least two months. The pain is typically located in the middle of the abdomen and may be described as dull, crampy, or intermittent.
  • The pain often improves after a bowel movement or passing gas and is not associated with weight loss, blood in the stool, or other alarming symptoms.


  • Diagnosing FAP involves a thorough evaluation by a healthcare provider. This includes a detailed medical history, physical examination, and laboratory tests to rule out other medical conditions, such as gastrointestinal disorders, infections, or inflammatory conditions.
  • Diagnostic tests may include blood tests, stool studies, imaging studies, and sometimes endoscopy or colonoscopy.

Causes and Triggers:

  • The exact cause of FAP is not well understood, but it is believed to involve a complex interplay of factors, including gastrointestinal motility, sensitivity to pain, and psychosocial factors.
  • Stress, anxiety, and emotional factors can play a role in triggering or exacerbating FAP symptoms in some children.


  • The management of Functional Abdominal Pain in children often involves a multidisciplinary approach and may include:
    • Education and reassurance: Providing information to the child and parents about the benign nature of FAP and its chronic, intermittent course.
    • Dietary modifications: Identifying and avoiding trigger foods, such as those that may lead to gas or bloating.
    • Psychological interventions: Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and other psychological therapies can help children manage stress and anxiety that may contribute to FAP symptoms.
    • Medications: In some cases, medications such as antispasmodics or low-dose tricyclic antidepressants may be considered to help manage pain.

Monitoring and Follow-Up:

  • Children with FAP may require ongoing monitoring and follow-up to assess symptom improvement and adjust treatment as needed.
  • The goal of treatment is to improve the child’s quality of life and minimize the impact of abdominal pain on daily activities.

Parental Support:

  • Parents play a crucial role in supporting children with FAP. They should work closely with healthcare providers, follow treatment recommendations, and provide emotional support.
  • Maintaining open communication with the child about their symptoms and feelings is important.

Functional Abdominal Pain in children can be a challenging condition to manage, but with appropriate care, most children experience symptom relief and improved quality of life over time. It’s essential for parents and healthcare providers to work together to address both the physical and emotional aspects of the condition.

The content is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice or as a substitute for medical advice of a physician