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Mind-Body Technique Eases Kids' Gut Pain
      10/30/03 11:17 AM
HeatherAdministrator

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Mind-Body Technique Eases Kids' Gut Pain

Kids Have Fewer Days of Abdominal Pain When Using Relaxation Technique

By Jeanie Lerche Davis

WebMD Medical News
Reviewed By Brunilda Nazario, MD

Aug. 5, 2003 -- For kids with chronic abdominal pain, relaxation techniques can help them cope.


Some 20% of school-age children suffer from recurrent abdominal pain -- and for 10% of them, there is a real problem in the gut. But for the rest, the pain is often unexplained -- yet persists, sometimes into adulthood.


It's a big problem that upsets their quality of life. "Not only are these children in pain, they are missing school, making frequent doctor visits and may suffer from anxiety and depression," says lead researcher Thomas M. Ball, MD, MPH, professor of clinical pediatrics at the University of Arizona, in a news release.


His report is published in the July/August issue of Clinical Pediatrics.


In it, he describes using guided imagery therapy -- which combines relaxation, imagery, and hypnosis -- to help children gain control over their pain. Other studies have shown that the technique helps kids with other types of pain, says Ball.


The technique affects the autonomic nervous system -- the nerves that are involved in involuntary functions in the body, such as digestion. In essence, it taps the body's own healing power, he says.


Each child was trained in relaxation and guided imagery during four weekly sessions. Each filled out a daily "pain diary" three times a day to track the effectiveness of the technique.


During the month of training, the children had 36% fewer days with pain.
In the second month, "pain days" decreased an additional 50%.
Total decrease in pain days was 67% less within two months of starting therapy.
Of the 10 children, seven showed improvement by the end of therapy and nine showed results one month later. Only one child showed no improvement.

The intensity of abdominal pain did not change during the period, but there were far fewer pain days, Ball reports.

SOURCES: Clinical Pediatrics, July/August 2003.

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