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Pain Somatoform Disorder Treatment & Management

  • Author: Dolores Protagoras-Lianos, MD; Chief Editor: Caroly Pataki, MD  more...
Updated: Oct 04, 2013

Medical Care

Medical care for physical illness must be appropriate for the diagnosed medical problems and requires judicious use of analgesics.

Effective mental health treatment for children is family-centered. Goals for therapy include the following[30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35] :

  • Gaining understanding of pain as a product of the interaction of physical and psychological factors
  • Improved family functioning
  • Increased assertiveness in victims of bullying
  • Learning strategies that produce some control over symptoms or reaction to pain, although symptoms may not be eradicated totally
  • Dealing successfully with anxiety generated by pain
  • Decreasing disability caused by pain
  • Limiting medical testing that is not helpful or necessary

Types of treatment include the following:

  • Counseling
  • Relaxation training (eg, progressive muscle relaxation, induced self-hypnosis)[31]
  • Behavioral methods (eg, behavioral-cognitive therapy)
  • Biofeedback
  • Family therapy (eg, focus on communication and appropriate responses)

Comorbid conditions (eg, anxiety, depression) should be treated.



Subspecialist consultations based on suspicion of specific medical disorders include the following:

  • Neurologist (chronic headache pain)
  • Gastroenterologist (chronic abdominal pain)
  • Mental health specialist


Encourage early gradual return to normal activity.

Contributor Information and Disclosures

Dolores Protagoras-Lianos, MD Former Director of Outpatient Department, Department of Pediatrics, Aghia Sophia Children's Hospital, Athens, Greece

Dolores Protagoras-Lianos, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Pediatrics, Hellenic Paediatric Society

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Specialty Editor Board

Mary L Windle, PharmD Adjunct Associate Professor, University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Pharmacy; Editor-in-Chief, Medscape Drug Reference

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Chief Editor

Caroly Pataki, MD Health Sciences Clinical Professor of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, University of California, Los Angeles, David Geffen School of Medicine

Caroly Pataki, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, New York Academy of Sciences, Physicians for Social Responsibility

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Additional Contributors

Chet Johnson, MD Professor of Pediatrics, Associate Director and Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrician, KU Center for Child Health and Development, Shiefelbusch Institute for Life Span Studies; Assistant Dean, Faculty Affairs and Development, University of Kansas School of Medicine

Chet Johnson, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Pediatrics

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

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