I am a
Home I AM A Search Login

Papers of the Week

Papers: 11 May 2024 - 17 May 2024

2024 May 08



The relationship between traumatic exposure and pain perception in children: the moderating role of posttraumatic symptoms.


Levy Gigi E, Rachmani M, Defrin R


Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) affect approximately half of all children worldwide. These experiences have been linked to increased pain sensitivity in adulthood and a higher likelihood of developing severe chronic pain. However, most studies have assessed the effects of ACEs retrospectively, long after they occurred, leaving room for other factors to influence the observed outcomes. We investigated, for the first time, the association between ACEs and concurrent pain perception among young children who live in a conflict zone and are consistently exposed to potentially traumatic experiences. Participants were 60 elementary school children (ages 8-11 years) living in conflict regions (n = 39) or nonconflict regions (n = 21). Posttraumatic stress symptom (PTSS) severity, traumatic exposure, pressure pain threshold (PPT), and mechanical detection threshold (MDT) were measured. Trauma-exposed children had significantly lower PPT than did controls, but MDT was similar across groups. Pressure pain threshold correlated positively with proximity to the conflict zone and inversely with traumatic exposure magnitude and PTSS severity. In addition, PTSSs moderated the relationship between repeated traumatic exposure and PPT. Children with higher PTSS severity displayed pain hypersensitivity regardless of their traumatic exposure level, whereas in children with lower PTSS severity, greater traumatic exposure correlated with pain hypersensitivity. The results suggest that ACEs among children lead to concurrent pain hypersensitivity and distress and may put them at elevated risk of chronic pain early in life. In addition, our findings emphasize the need for identifying children with various PTSS levels to provide tailored interventions and mitigate the long-term negative effects of ACEs.