Sedentary behavior linked to chronic pain in children

Prepubertal children who regularly engage in sedentary behavior have an increased likelihood of experiencing various pain conditions.
Prepubertal children who regularly engage in sedentary behavior have an increased likelihood of experiencing various pain conditions.

Cardiorespiratory fitness, sedentary behavior, and low body fat content have been linked to an increased likelihood of numerous pain conditions in prepubertal children, according to research published in the Journal of Pain.

Timo A. Lakka, MD, PhD, Institute of Biomedicine/Physiology, University of Eastern Finland, and colleagues examined the cross-sectional associations of sedentary behavior, physical activity, cardiorespiratory fitness, and body fat in 439 children between ages 6 and 8 years.

The researchers used questionnaires to assess sedentary behavior, physical activity, and pain conditions; a maximal cycle ergometer test to measure cardiorespiratory fitness, and dual-energy X-ray absorptimetry to determine body fat percentage.

Dr Lakka and colleagues found that children in the highest third of sedentary behavior had 1.95 times higher odds of experiencing pain and 50% lower odds of experiencing headache than children in the lowest third. Conversely, children in the highest third of cardiorespiratory fitness had 46% lower odds of experiencing any pain and 50% lower odds of experiencing headache than children in the lowest third.

“Physical activity was not associated with pain conditions,” concluded Dr Lakka. “These findings suggest that prepubertal children with high levels of sedentary behavior, low levels of cardiorespiratory fitness, and low body fat content have increased likelihood of various pain conditions.”

Dr Lakka noted that such information could be used to prevent chronic pain in childhood.

Reference

  1. Vierola A, Suominen AL, Lindi V, et al. Associations of sedentary behavior, physical activity, cardiorespiratory fitness, and body fat content with pain conditions in children: The physical activity and nutrition in children study. J Pain. 2016; doi: 10.1016.j.jpain.2016.03.011
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