Childhood trauma is linked to chronic pain in adulthood

Credit: Unsplash+

Recent research has brought to light a disturbing link: experiences of abuse or neglect in childhood can lead to chronic pain and disabilities in adulthood.

This study emphasizes the critical need to address these early adverse experiences and their long-lasting effects on health.

The study, spanning 75 years and involving over 826,000 adults, was published in the European Journal of Psychotraumatology.

It found that individuals who faced traumatic events in childhood, especially physical abuse, are more likely to suffer from chronic pain and related disabilities later in life. The risk increases when multiple types of childhood trauma are experienced.

Dr. André Bussières, from McGill University’s School of Physical & Occupational Therapy, points out the alarming reality: half of the world’s child population is exposed to such adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) annually.

These experiences range from direct abuses, like physical, sexual, or emotional abuse and neglect, to indirect factors, such as living in environments with domestic violence, substance abuse, or parental loss.

Chronic pain is a significant health issue, affecting a significant portion of the population and leading to disabilities. Conditions like back pain, arthritis, headaches, and migraines can severely impact daily life, limiting work and physical activities.

Prior research had already suggested a link between childhood trauma and adult chronic pain, but there were gaps in understanding specific associations and the extent of the impact.

This new study helps fill these gaps by systematically reviewing 85 studies and pooling results from 57 of them. The findings are stark:

  • Adults who experienced any form of direct childhood trauma were 45% more likely to report chronic pain compared to those who did not.
  • Childhood physical abuse had a strong correlation with both chronic pain and pain-related disability in adulthood.
  • The likelihood of chronic pain or disability in adulthood increased with any direct ACE, whether alone or combined with indirect ACEs.
  • The risk of adult chronic pain significantly rose from one to four or more ACEs.

Professor Jan Hartvigsen from the University of Southern Denmark, the study’s senior author, stresses the urgency of addressing ACEs given their widespread prevalence and health consequences.

He suggests that a deeper understanding of how ACEs relate to chronic pain can guide healthcare professionals and policymakers in creating targeted strategies to mitigate the impact of early-life adversity.

The study advocates for future research to explore the biological mechanisms by which ACEs impact health throughout a person’s life. This knowledge could lead to effective ways to lessen the long-term health effects of early trauma.

This research highlights the importance of early intervention and support to break the cycle of adversity and improve health outcomes for those affected by childhood trauma.

If you care about pain, please read studies about vitamin K deficiency linked to hip fractures in old people, and these vitamins could help reduce bone fracture risk.

For more information about wellness, please see recent studies that Krill oil could improve muscle health in older people, and eating yogurt linked to lower frailty in older people.

The research findings can be found in the European Journal of Psychotraumatology.

Copyright © 2023 Knowridge Science Report. All rights reserved.