Childhood trauma linked with increased risk of chronic pain, related disability in adulthood- The New Indian Express



NEW DELHI: Adverse childhood experiences, such as physical, sexual or emotional abuse or neglect, increases the risk of chronic pain and related disability in adulthood, new research has found.

Over 1 billion children – half of the global child population – were exposed to adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) each year, putting them at increased risk of chronic pain and disability later in life, according to André Bussières, School of Physical & Occupational Therapy at McGill University, Canada.

The international research team analysed studies carried out across 75 years, involving 826,452 adults.

“There is an urgent need to develop targeted interventions and support systems to break the cycle of adversity and improve long-term health outcomes for those individuals who have been exposed to childhood trauma,” said Bussières, lead author of the study published in the journal European Journal of Psychotraumatology.

ACEs can affect a child or teenager directly through physical, sexual, or emotional abuse, or neglect – or indirectly through exposure to environmental factors like domestic violence, living with substance abuse or parental loss.

While previous research has indicated a positive relationship between exposure to ACEs and chronic pain in adulthood, there remain knowledge gaps, particularly around which type of ACEs are associated with specific pain-related conditions, or whether a dose-response relationship exists, the researchers said.

In this study, the researchers found that people with childhood trauma were 45 per cent more likely to report chronic pain in adulthood compared to those not exposed.

Further, exposure to trauma in childhood raised the odds of an individual reporting chronic pain or pain-related disability in adulthood, with physical abuse being associated with a higher likelihood of reporting both chronic pain and pain-related disability, they said.

“A more nuanced understanding of the precise relationship between ACEs and chronic pain will empower healthcare professionals and policymakers to devise targeted strategies to help diminish the long-term impact of early-life adversity on adult health,” said senior author Jan Hartvigsen, from the University of Southern Denmark.

The authors proposed that future research should delve into the biological mechanisms through which ACEs affect health across the lifespan, which can aim to deepen understanding and develop ways to mitigate their impact.

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