This website is intended for healthcare professionals


How to approach recurring abdominal pain in children

Abdominal pain in children commonly presents in practice. A Sahib El-Radhi explains diagnosis
and management

Abdominal pain (AP) is a very common complaint caused by a variety of conditions. Mild or moderate AP affects practically all children of all ages. The pain usually settles spontaneously without medical intervention. AP severe enough to require medical intervention has both surgical and non-surgical causes. It is responsible for considerable morbidity, missed school days and significant use of health resources.

Children usually present either with an acute or recurrent AP. In comparison, chronic AP with persistent symptoms, lasting days or weeks, is rare in children. Surgical conditions may be the underlying causes in acute AP, but non-surgical conditions are diagnosed more commonly in children with recurring AP. Management can be difficult, time-consuming and often clinically challenging to diagnose and treat. In most instances, the cause of AP can be diagnosed through the history and physical examination. The main objective in managing an affected child is to differentiate between benign, self-limited conditions such as constipation or gastroenteritis, and more life-threatening surgical conditions such as intussusception or appendicitis. Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and Crohn's disease should be considered in any child presenting with recurrent AP. The causes of acute abdominal pain are listed in Table 1.

Register now for access

Thank you for visiting Independent Nurse and reading some of our premium content. To read more, please register today. 


Already have an account? Sign in here