Functional Abdominal Pain

Also known as: functional abdominal pain syndrome (FAPS), centrally mediated abdominal pain syndrome (CAPS).

What is functional abdominal pain?

Many forms of abdominal pain are related to problems with the digestive function of the intestinal tract; inflammation within the lining of the intestinal tract; or blockages or other abnormalities in the structure of the intestinal tract or its associated organs. When an individual experiences abdominal pain that is not arising from blockages, inflammation, or infection within the intestinal tract or associated organs, it might be due to what is called functional abdominal pain.  


What causes functional abdominal pain?

The intestine has a complicated system of nerves and muscles that helps move food forward and carry out digestion. However, in some children, the nerves become very sensitive, and pain is experienced even during normal intestinal functions.

Infections, injuries, or traumatic life events that lead to stress seem to trigger functional abdominal pain in some instances.


What are the symptoms of functional abdominal pain?

The pain is the primary symptom, but it can often be severe and quite frequent, or even constant. Constipation, diarrhea, bloating, and feeling full after only a few bites of food can be part of a patient’s constellation of symptoms arising secondary to functional gastrointestinal disorders. For some people, the pain can become debilitating and lead to other life complications, including anxiety and depression.

What are functional abdominal pain care options?

Medications such as antidepressants can help some persons with functional abdominal pain. Behavioral techniques like cognitive behavioral therapy, mindfulness, and deep breathing can also be helpful. Avoiding triggers such as stress, intake of particular foods, and others can also play a role in reducing the impact of functional abdominal pain.



Reviewed by: Shifra A Koyfman, MD

This page was last updated on: March 20, 2019 04:06 PM