Amplified Gut Pain

We could do a lot better than the following:

  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • Non-organic abdominal pain
  • Functional abdominal pain (FAP)
  • Visceral hyperalgesia

Everyday I see families and these terms create more work –not less.

DD Sherry (JAMA Pediatrics 2022; 176: 10-11. Amplified Pain—A Helpful Diagnosis) shares his views on chronic pain terminology with regard to rheumatology, but some of the same lessons should be applied to pediatric gastroenterology:

  • “The primary purpose of any diagnosis is to serve the patient. They want to know what they have, even if we, as scientists, do not know the cause or mechanism. For example, we have no idea why children have juvenile idiopathic arthritis and, even though it has the word idiopathic in it, giving the child and family this diagnosis is reassuring, allows them to stop looking for other reasons for their symptoms, lets them tell others what they have, and allows for therapy to begin.”
  • “Amplified pain, in essence, is when the body takes a signal and amplifies it to become symptomatic. The pain is disproportional, as is, frequently the degree of disability”
  • “Telling patients with amplified pain that their pain is chronic pain,… functional pain…is no help. Many of these children have already been told they are malingering”
  • “Using the term amplified pain is useful, understandable, and rational. These children are not exaggerating their pain complaint.”

My take: A term like amplified gut pain would be an improvement from what we have now. It could be introduced as another term for visceral hyperalgesia or as a childhood variant of IBS or FAP since it is not currently used in the literature.

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1 thought on “Amplified Gut Pain

  1. Excellent idea. Great term. Wonder if it should be modified by something like “unintentional” to indicate that it’s not their fault.

    Stan Cohen MD CCDHC Office 993D Johnson Ferry #440 Atlanta 30342 404 503 2252


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