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Feature Article

Pain in adolescence: a time of vulnerability and opportunity

SUSAN M. LORD, ELIZABETH A. KEPREOTES

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Abstract

Pain in adolescence and youth can interrupt learning, social outcomes and work roles with life-long effects. GPs can help young people to reduce their pain and disability, and can co-ordinate care if allied health or specialist advice is needed. A focused approach in adolescence may restore wellbeing and prevent persisting pain in adulthood.

Key Points

  • In Australia, 14% of people with chronic pain are young people.
  • Headache, abdominal pain and musculoskeletal pain are common in adolescents. Pain associated with surgical or traumatic nerve injuries may be under-recognised.
  • A tailored explanation of the diagnosis and answers to a young person’s questions are foundations for engagement in treatment.
  • Analgesics may help some young people, but should not be stand-alone treatment. Consent, timeframe, goals, review of adverse effects and deprescribing should all be part of a medication plan.
  • Face-to-face school attendance is vital and even therapeutic for school-age adolescents with pain.

    Picture credit: Ademortuus/iStockphoto.com
    Model used for illustrative purposes only.

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