Somatosensory test responses in children with growing pains
Shanthi Pathirana1, David Champion1,2, Tiina Jaaniste1, Anthony Yee2, Cindy Chapman1
1Department of Anesthesia and Pain Medicine, 2Department of Rheumatology, Sydney Children's Hospital, Randwick, New South Wales, Australia
Purpose: To further the understanding of growing pains (GP), in particular, the nature of this pain disorder.
Methods: This study included 33 children aged 5–12 years who met criteria for GP (cases) and 29 children without GP of similar age and sex (controls). Nineteen controls were siblings of cases. GP was diagnosed by standard consensus questionnaires. A questionnaire addressed characteristics of the pain and family history of GP. Evidence for peripheral neuropathic disorder was tested by somatosensory testing and provocation tests of peripheral nerves. Somatosensory testing by a blinded researcher involved threshold determination and/or response magnitude to nonpainful stimuli including touch, dynamic brush, cold, vibration, and deep pressure applied to limb and abdominal sites.
Results: Distributional, temporal, and quality characteristics of the pain were in accordance with published descriptions. There was no indication of primary musculoskeletal disorder. No evidence was found that GP is a peripheral neuropathic pain syndrome. There were minor but statistically significantly increased responses to cutaneous cold, vibration, and to deep pressure stimuli in cases compared to controls, evident in a wider distribution than the symptomatic lower limbs.
Conclusion: GP is a regional pain syndrome with evidence in this study of mild widespread disorder of somatosensory processing.
Keywords: growing pains, somatosensory testing, case-control study
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