Vanderbilt University’s Amanda L. Stone and Anna C. Wilson of Oregon Health & Science University have presented a report that suggests that the children of parents’ with chronic pain are at increased risk of developing chronic pain themselves. A
According to ScienceDaily, the study was published in the journal PAIN, which is the official publication of the International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP). The journal is published by Wolters Kluwer.
These children also have an increased risk of adverse mental and physical health consequences associated with chronic pain. Stone and Wilson developed an “integrative conceptual model” used to explore possible reasons for this risk. The scientists identified five “plausible mechanisms” that could explain how the chronic disease risk might be transmitted from parent to child.
One theory has to do with genetics. Kids of mothers or fathers who experience chronic pain might have an elevated risk for sensory and psychological elements of discomfort. Another possibility is that the chronic pain endured by the parent may cause the features and functioning of the child’s nervous system to be affected during early developmental stages.
It is also possible that children learn “maladaptive pain behaviors” from their parents because the mothers and fathers act in manners that bolster those functions. One of those actions might be catastrophizing, which means exhibiting exaggerated responses and worries surrounding the pain.
When parents are permissive or lack warmth and consistency, or when moms and dads exhibit poor health habits because of the pain, the children may be affected.
Harmful effects can occur when there are stressful circumstances related to the chronic pain, such as incapacitated parents or financial difficulties for the family. The risk of children suffering chronic pain can be elevated based on whether the both parents are in pain, the timing of the pain, the location of the parent’s pain, the course the pain takes, and the characteristics of the involved child, including his or her temperament, gender, race, ethnicity, or developmental stage.
“The outlined mechanisms, moderators, and vulnerabilities likely interact over time to influence the development of chronic pain and related outcomes in offspring of parents with chronic pain,” Drs. Stone and Wilson note.
The researchers believe their study shows that chronic pain could be inherently intergenerational and familial. This idea allows for research into models of intervention and even prevention that can center on the family as a whole and on the children who are at risk, reports PTI.
The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) defines pain as a sensation that is activated in the nervous system to alert the brain of possible injury. Chronic pain, however, persists. Pain signals can be triggered in the nervous system for weeks at a time.
The pain may begin because of a mishap such as a back injury or a problematic infection, or it can exist because of ongoing causes including cancer, joint problems, or arthritis.
It is possible that some people experience pain in the absence of injury, illness, or past injury. Others have more than one co-existing chronic pain states. These conditions are often chronic fatigue syndrome, endometriosis, inflammatory bowel disease, or fibromyalgia.
Research is being done to discover new methods to curb pain in the areas of acupuncture with electrical needles, known as electroacupuncture, stress reduction, and new drug combinations and synthetics.