Pain brings many clients to massage therapy. New research shows behavioral problems in childhood doubles the risk of chronic widespread pain in adulthood.

A British study followed more than 18,000 people from birth in 1958 to the present day. Children whose teachers had reported severe persistent behavior problems at ages 7, 11 and 16 had more than double the risk of chronic pain in adulthood compared to children without behavior problems at all ages.

The research, published online in the journal Rheumatology on March 10, found that children with severe behavior disturbances had approximately double the risk of chronic widespread pain by the time they reached the age of 45 than children who did not have behavior problems, according to a press release distributed by Oxford University Press.

Chronic widespread pain is a common complaint that can have a major adverse effect on quality of life, often requiring referral to a hospital specialist for investigation and treatment, the release noted.

The researchers found that this association was not explained by social class, early reporting of symptoms or an already-known link between adult psychological distress and chronic widespread pain. Instead, they believe that a dysfunction in the interaction between the nervous system and hormones, occurring in early life, may have long-term consequences for adult health.

“This study helps us to understand the factors in childhood that can lead someone to get on a trajectory of ill-health, including chronic pain,” said lead researcher Professor Gary Macfarlane.

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