Munson Health
Functional Abdominal Pain-Child

Back to Document


Risk Factors

Factors associated with functional abdominal pain may be psychological, physical, or a combination of both.
Psychological factors include:
Physical factors may include:
  • Previous gastrointestinal infection
  • Repeated abdominal injury


Symptoms vary widely among children. Pain can be intermittent, steady, or chronic. It may appear suddenly or slowly increase over time.
Functional abdominal pain may be:
  • Located near the belly button
  • Feel like indigestion, such as a burning sensation under the breastbone that is not associated with eating
  • Be a feeling of fullness after a few bites of food
  • Upper abdominal pain that may or not be associated with nausea or vomiting
  • Associated with bowel movements, but not always relieved by bowel movements


The doctor will ask about your child’s symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. The doctor may suspect functional abdominal pain based on the type and pattern of pain. It will be helpful for the doctor to know how it has affected your child’s quality of life with missed activities and school.
Your child’s doctor will run some tests to rule out causes of abdominal pain. These tests may include:
In order to narrow down a definite cause, your child’s doctor may prescribe acid reducers, laxatives, or antidiarrheal medications. These medications are generally used for a short amount of time to determine if they reduce or eliminate symptoms.
It may also be suggested that your child make dietary changes, such as eliminating dairy products, or increasing intake of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
Ultimately, a diagnosis can be made based on normal test results, absence of any disorders, and regularity of abdominal pain.


American Academy of Pediatrics

American College of Gastroenterology



Canadian Paediatric Society

The Canadian Association of Gastroenterology



American Academy of Pediatrics Subcommittee on Chronic Abdominal Pain. Chronic abdominal pain in children. Pediatrics. 2005;115(3):812-815.

Antidepressants for the treatment of abdominal pain-related functional gastrointestinal disorders in children and adolescents. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2011 Jul 6;(7):CD008013.

Chiou E, Nurko S. Functional abdominal pain and irritable bowel syndrome in children and adolescents. Therapy. 2011;8(3):315-331.

Chiou E, Nurko S. Management of functional abdominal pain and irritable bowel syndrome in children and adolescents. Expert Rev Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2010;4(3):293-304.

Functional abdominal pain in children American College of Gastroenterology website. Available at: Updated December 2012. Accessed October 24, 2013.

Functional abdominal pain syndrome. International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders website. Available at: Updated October 1, 2013. Accessed October 24, 2013.

Recurrent abdominal pain in children. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: Updated August 9, 2011. Accessed October 24, 2013.

12/17/2013 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance Gijsbers CF, Schweizer, et al. Protozoa as a cause of recurrent abdominal pain in children. J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 2013 Nov;57(5):603-6.


Revision Information