Living with chronic pain – or recovering from acute pain – is, unfortunately, not limited to the world of adults and is an issue that many children live with, as well. We would like to address the topics of back pain in youth and chronic tension headaches in teens by providing you with information about some interesting current research and news related to both of these important subjects.
Headaches – A Study Beyond Medication
Pain in kids and teens is a real problem. In addressing the unique needs of this age group who live with any degree of on-going physical pain, Dr. Peter Przekop, lead author of a recent study on teens and pain, explains: “If you meet these kids, they’re not doing well in school, they don’t have friends, they’re staying home, they don’t feel good about themselves. That’s the thing I wanted to change, and that actually improved,” he pointed out. “I think they were able to cope with their overall pain and overall stress and change the way they perceived the world and how they perceived themselves.”(www.medscape.com/viewarticle/811915?src=wnl_edit_tpal&uac=210668CJ)
Just last month, at the September 26-29th American Academy of Pain Management 24th Annual Clinical Meeting in Orlando, Florida, Dr. Przekop presented his paper, which is entitled: Nondrug Treatment for Chronic Tension Headache in Teens. Prezekop’s study asserts that “chronic tension-type headache, which may affect up to 20% of teens, can be successfully treated without pharmacologic agents.” Specifically, the study found that “osteopathic manipulation and instruction in daily mindfulness and the traditional Chinese practice of qi gong was more effective than pharmacologic therapy in relieving their headaches.” “Qi gong is a traditional Chinese practice that aligns breathing, slow, repeated movements and awareness to promote healing,” Dr. Przekop explained. “The instruction on how to do mindfulness involves telling the patients to close their eyes, get in touch with what they were feeling inside, breathe, and stop the story going on in their head, to stop the story.” The teens in the experimental group were taught an internal qi gong routine that consisted of 6 simple moves that they practiced each day.www.medscape.com/viewarticle/811915?src=wnl_edit_tpal&uac=210668CJ
In a climate where we are learning more about the challenges of opioid use, dependence and abuse, this research, which indicates the potential efficacy of non-pharmaceutical pain relief methods, is important news.
Gerard J. Hevern, MD, from New Hampshire’s Hospital for Children, commented on this study in a Medscape Medical News article. “I’ve never seen anything quite like this before, and I think it makes some sense, because when pediatric patients come in they are looking for ways to maintain control of their lives without the use of medications, and if you create the opportunity, many of them will grab on to it. Also, the parents are very concerned about beginning their children on these medications, especially over the long run, so this is a great opportunity to begin to say that these non pharmacological things actually do work as good, if not better than medications.” www.medscape.com/viewarticle/811915?src=wnl_edit_tpal&uac=210668CJ
To read the full Medscape Medical News article at this link: www.medscape.com/viewarticle/811915?src=wnl_edit_tpal&uac=210668CJ
Just as with adults, when an adolescent presents with a primary complaint of “my back hurts,” there are a number of questions on our mind. For adults, a variety of questions and diagnostic strategies exist for helping both the physician and the patient pursue a diagnosis and a recovery plan. For kids, this is rarely the case, as there are very “few, if any, published questionnaires which focus on spinal problems and its consequences in children and adolescents.” www.medscape.com/viewarticle/807557?src=wnl_edit_tpal&uac=210668CJ
Even though spinal pain in adolescent medicine has been clearly documented in the last 10 or more years, one of the first stringently studied questionnaires to assess pain related to the young spine is just now being developed.
A recently reported study concluded with the creation of a viable questionnaire. The Young Spine Questionnaire (YSQ) contains questions that assess spinal pain and its consequences. These preliminary results suggest that the YSQ is feasible (and) is a well understood questionnaire to be used in studies of children aged 9 to 11 years. www.medscape.com/viewarticle/807557?src=wnl_edit_tpal&uac=210668CJ
If you have ever experienced an evaluation for spine pain and you end up bringing your child to us because of continuing back pain, don’t be surprised if our evaluation involves a specific questionnaire designed for adolescents. It might sound similar to some of the questions you were asked, but this new format is specifically designed for our patients who are about 9,10 or 11 years of age. Back/spinal pain hurts no matter what your age. Our hope is that by integrating new assessment tools into our practice, we stand ready to help alleviate and treat pack pain for every member of your family.