Evaluation of pain in youth exposed to traumatic experiences
Canadian Pain Society/Pfizer Early Career Investigator Research Grant
Pediatric chronic pain affects 1 in 4 Canadian youth. If left unmanaged, it can lead to chronic pain problems and mental health disorders (e.g. posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)) into adulthood. Adolescents with chronic pain report having more significant PTSD symptoms as compared to pain-free peers. It is thought that the experience of trauma might increase the risk of developing or worsening of pain symptoms due to changes in brain regions that activate in response to both traumatic and painful experiences. We are exploring whether greater PTSD symptoms are associated with alterations in brain structure/function and whether these brain changes are related to the development of pain sensitivity or pain symptomology in youth. The earlier we can identify at-risk individuals and intervene, the more likely it is that we will be able to prevent the transition from acute to chronic pain.