Article Index

What are the symptoms?

Usually, this pain is located around the belly button. However, this is not always the case. Pain may be located in other areas or change locations from time to time. The pain may start suddenly, or may gradually increase in severity. The pain may be constant, or may increase and decrease in severity. Children with functional abdominal pain generally do not have fever, involuntary weight loss, poor appetite, blood in vomitus or stool, pain or blood with urination. All the above are signs that a doctor will ask about to rule out another condition associated with the abdominal pain.

What are the other conditions that can cause chronic abdominal pain?

Other disorders that are related to abnormalities in an organ system, such as the gastrointestinal, urinary, or gynecologic system can also cause chronic abdominal pain. These disorders include conditions caused by an identifiable structural, infectious, or biochemical abnormality within the body. Therefore, unlike functional abdominal pain, in these conditions the laboratory or imaging testing may show some abnormalities. Thus, if the doctor suspects another condition you should expect a more extensive workup.

Is functional abdominal pain a serious condition?

It is reassuring to parents and children to know that functional abdominal pain is not a life threatening condition. However, functional abdominal pain may have adverse effects on the child’s physical and emotional state. The pain may interfere with school attendance, participation in sports, and other extra-curricular activities. Occasionally, it may affect appetite and sleep. The inability to carry out daily activities may affect the child’s mood and emotions.

Conversely, in some cases, abdominal pain may be triggered by anxiety or stress. This may be seen during periods of change or stress in a family, such as the birth of a new sibling or illness of a family member. These are periods when the parent(s) has limited time to spend with their child. Starting school may trigger abdominal pain. Other times stressors may not be part of the problem. Or they may be present but not easily identifiable. Stressors may even include positive experiences such as vacations, birthdays, or trips. Other times, the high frequency or intensity of the pain itself may stress the child and parents.

Although it is natural as a parent to be worried about your child’s health you should be aware that your comments and reaction may affect the child’s behavior and pain. Parents expressing worrisome comments about the causes of the pain or doubting the benign nature of the pain may make the child more anxious. That may increase the pain. Parents should show understanding and support without encouraging behavior that emphasizes sickness. Although it may be difficult for the parents to do, studies have shown that distracting the child from his or her pain could be helpful.

Research Awards
2020 Award Recipients
Kyle Staller, MD
Christopher V. Almario, MD
Maria Raffaella Barbaro, PhD
2019 Award Recipients
Arpana Gupta, PhD
David Levinthal, MD, PhD
Ilan Koppen, MD, PhD
2018 Award Recipients
Amaranath Karunanayake, PhD
Katja Kovacic, MD
Cristina Martinez, PhD
Ans Pauwels, PhD
2013 Award Recipients
Enrico Corazziari, MD
Jan Tack, MD, PhD
Report from Gary Mawe, PhD: The Roles of Intestinal Nerves and Serotonin in Gut Function and Dysfunction
Ashley Blackshaw, PhD
Carlo Di Lorenzo, MD
Niranga Manjuri Devanarayana, MD
Report from Lukas Van Oudenhove, PhD: Solving the Biopsychosocial Puzzle in Functional Dyspepsia
Muriel Larauche, PhD
2011 Award Recipients
Report from Ronnie Fass, MD: Sleep and Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)
Million Mulugeta, PhD
Adrian Miranda, MD
Samuel Nurko, MD
Sudarshan Jadcherla, MD
Shaman Rajindrajith, MD
2009 Award Recipients
Satish Rao, MD
Emeran Mayer, MD
Javier Santos, MD
Report from Martin Storr, MD, PhD: Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders: New Insights in Enteric Regulation
Report From Miguel Saps, MD: Functional Abdominal Pain in Children and Adolescents
2007 Award Recipients
Report from Bruce D. Naliboff, PhD: Symptom Based Psychology for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders
Report from Magnus Simrén, MD, PhD: Irritable Bowel Syndrome: Searching for Underlying Causes
Report from Brennan M. R. Spiegel, MD, MSHS: Diagnostic Testing in Irritable Bowel Syndrome: Theory vs. Reality
Report from Sylvie Bradesi, PhD: Role of the Central Immune System in Functional Disorders
Paul E. Hyman, MD
Report from Miranda A. L. van Tilburg, PhD: Home Based Guided Imagery to Treat Pediatric Functional Abdominal Pain
Report from Fernando Azpiroz, MD, PhD: Understanding Intestinal Gas
2005 Award Recipients
Report from Yvette Tache, PhD: Stress and Irritable Bowel Syndrome: Unraveling the Code
Report from Shaheen Hamdy, MRCP, PhD: Adult Neurogenic Dysphagia -- Disorders and Conditions that Disrupt Swallowing
Report from Michael A. Pezzone, MD, PhD: Chronic Pelvic Pain and the Overlap of Pelvic Pain Disorders
Report from Bridget R. Southwell, PhD: Research into Treatment-Resistant Constipation in Children
Report from Rachel Rosen, MD, MPH: Symptoms Arising from Non-Acid Reflux in Children
2003 Award Recipients
Report from William E. Whitehead, PhD: Summary of Clinical Research Activities
Jyoti N. Sengupta, PhD
Report from Caroline Elder Danda, PhD: Biopsychosocial Perspectives on Assessment and Treatment
Report from Terry Buchmiller-Crair, MD: Using the Fetal Gastrointestinal Tract to Overcome Neonatal Disease
Report from Dan L. Dumitrascu, MD, PhD: The Psychosocial Adjustment to Illness in Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Report from Klaus Bielefeldt, MD, PhD: Understanding Pain and Discomfort in Functional GI Disorders
Research Grants
IFFGD Competitive Grants
2014 IFFGD Idiopathic Gastroparesis Research Grants
Leo Cheng, PhD
Braden Kuo, MD, MSc
Richard McCallum, MD
2008 IFFGD Competitive Research Grants
IFFGD Noncompetitive Grants
Other Research Grant Opportunities
Funding Research
Need for Funding Research
How to Make a Difference
The State of Research at NIH & NIDDK
Clinical Trials & Studies
Guide to Randomized Clinical Trials
Clinical Trials and Studies

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