What is it about?

Adolescents experience pain frequently. Problematic pain is that which occurs monthly and leads to impact on normal function, or need for health care or medication. We found teens who experience problematic pain had up to twice to odds of substance use behaviour, including smoking, binge drinking and illicit drugs use than kids who didn't experience this pain. Teens with problematic pain also had poorer mental health and coping ability.

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Why is it important?

This is the first study to assess health outcomes in kids with problematic pain. Other studies only report on the occurrence of any pain, many of which events are normal and transient with little consequence. Problematic pain however, may have be part of a cluster of risk factors leading to long term poor health.


In our study we cannot suggest pain causes substance use or poor mental health, or vice versa. We have little understanding about what causes what and this will be an important direction for our work in the future. It does however seem appropriate that 'problematic pain' be considered in chronic disease prevention programs given the link between pain and other risk factors for poor health.

Dr Christopher M Williams
University of Newcastle

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Increased Substance Use and Poorer Mental Health in Adolescents With Problematic Musculoskeletal Pain, Journal of Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy, October 2017, Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy (JOSPT),
DOI: 10.2519/jospt.2017.7441.
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