As our country is faced with addressing a surge in opioid abuse and misuse, pediatric chronic pain is often absent from policy proposals and funding initiatives despite its prevalence, economic impact, and relevance to the current opioid epidemic.

It is estimated that approximately 5-38% of children and adolescents suffer from chronic pain and, from 1994 to 2007, pediatric opioid prescription rates doubled. Pediatric chronic pain is associated with a significant level of economic burden in this country. Recent studies estimate that the economic cost of pediatric chronic pain is 19.5 billion dollars annually and it accounts for 11.8 billion dollars in total incremental health care expenditures, which is more than expenditures associated with obesity ($0.73 billion) and asthma ($9.23 billion) combined.

Children with chronic pain will soon be adults with chronic pain. Poor pain management in childhood not only affects the quality of life of children and their families, but also puts children at risk for continued and heightened impairment as they move into adulthood. Unfortunately, up to 73% of children and adolescents with chronic pain will continue to have pain in adulthood and are likely to develop new pain conditions.

The aim of this brief is to bring pediatric pain to the forefront of the discussion of pain management in this country.

We are pleased to announce the release of Pediatric Chronic Pain: Prevalence, economic impact, and its relevance to the current opioid epidemic, which is the tenth in a series of briefs profiling policy and educational issues important to improving chronic pain. We wish to thank contributors: Sarah R. Martin, PhD and Lonnie K. Zeltzer, MD of the Pediatric Pain and Palliative Care Program, Division of Pediatric Hematology-Oncology, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and editors: Richard Payne, MD, John B. Francis Chair, Center for Practical Bioethics, Bob Twillman, PhD, FAPM, Executive Director, Academy of Integrative Pain Management and James Cleary, MD, FAChPM, Associate Professor of Medicine University of Wisconsin and Director of the Pain and Policy Studies Group.

This policy and educational brief is a product of the Pain Action Alliance to Implement a National Strategy (PAINS) and the Center for Practical Bioethics.

The Policy & Educational Brief Series is designed as a tool for PAINS members to support their work to improve pain policy. In the spirit of the alliance, the Brief is designed as an “open document” so any member organization or individual can brand it with their name and contact information. The back page of the brief is designed with a space marked “This copy is made available to you by:” for easy personalization.

Everyone can download a master electronic copy. Hard copies of the latest issue can be ordered in a package of 10 or 20 for free and there is a flat rate mailing cost of $5.00. If you want larger quantities, please contact us.

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