Idiopathic or functional abdominal pain (FAP) is common in school-age children and typically reflects a functional gastrointestinal disorder (FGID). FGIDs in adults have been distinguished by enhanced responses of the central nervous system to pain stimuli, known as central sensitization. This study investigated whether adolescents and young adults with a history of pediatric FAP (n=144), compared with well control subjects (n=78), showed enhanced central sensitization demonstrated by greater temporal summation (wind-up) to brief, repetitive heat pulses. We also assessed the role of gender and trait anxiety in wind-up to heat pain. Women with a history of FAP showed greater wind-up to heat pain than men with a history of FAP (P<.05) and well control subjects of both genders (P<.05). Results were similar for FAP participants whose abdominal pain was ongoing at follow-up and those whose pain had resolved. Although anxiety was significantly higher in the FAP group compared with control subjects (P<.01) and in women compared with men (P<.05), anxiety did not explain the increased wind-up observed in women with a childhood history of FAP. Results suggest that women with a pediatric history of FAP may have a long-term vulnerability to pain associated with enhanced central nervous system responses to pain stimuli. Young women with a childhood history of functional abdominal pain may have a long-term vulnerability to pain that is associated with enhanced responses of the central nervous system to pain stimuli.
Copyright © 2010 International Association for the Study of Pain. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.