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.