In 90-95% of cases of recurrent abdominal pain (RAP), a specific cause is not identified. When the pain cannot be attributed to any disease, we refer to it as functional RAP. The contents of this website refer mostly to this type of pain.
Functional pain often presents with a set of symptoms that follow characteristic patterns that are collected and published in so-called Rome IV criteria. These criteria were created in 1992 by a worldwide group of experts in functional digestive disorders who meet on a regular basis to review them. The latest review was in 2017.
Functional abdominal pain disorders. Rome IV:
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Functional dyspepsia
- Abdominal migraine
- Functional abdominal pain – not otherwise specified
The most common disorders in children are functional dyspepsia and functional abdominal pain–not otherwise specified.
In RAP without alarm signs or symptoms, there is no need for additional tests because there is no physical cause that is responsible. When there are alarm signs or symptoms, or if the paediatrician deems it necessary, a series of diagnostic tests are ordered to rule out organic diseases that may be the cause of the pain, which often do not extend beyond a few blood and stool (poo) tests. In case of doubt, the paediatrician may require assessment by a paediatric gastroenterology specialist, who will consider whether or not to perform other diagnostic tests.