Review article: The functional abdominal pain syndrome

A. D. Sperber, D. A. Drossman

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

    46 Scopus citations


    Background Functional abdominal pain syndrome (FAPS) is a debilitating disorder with constant or nearly constant abdominal pain, present for at least 6 months and loss of daily functioning. Aim To review the epidemiology, pathophysiology and treatment of FAPS. Methods A literature review using the keywords: functional abdominal pain, chronic abdominal pain, irritable bowel syndrome and functional gastrointestinal disorders. Results No epidemiological studies have focused specifically on FAPS. Estimates of prevalence range from 0.5% to 1.7% and tend to show a female predominance. FAPS pathophysiology appears unique in that the pain is caused primarily by amplified central perception of normal visceral input, rather than by enhanced peripheral stimulation from abdominal viscera. The diagnosis of FAPS is symptom-based in accordance with the Rome III diagnostic criteria. These criteria are geared to identify patients with severe symptoms as they require constant or nearly constant abdominal pain with loss of daily function and are differentiated from IBS based on their non-association with changes in bowel habit, eating or other gut-related events. As cure is not feasible, the aims of treatment are reduced suffering and improved quality of life. Treatment is based on a biopsychosocial approach with a therapeutic patient-physician partnership at its base. Therapeutic options include central nonpharmacological and pharmacological modalities and peripheral modalities. These can be combined to produce an augmentation effect. Conclusion Although few studies have assessed functional abdominal pain syndrome or its treatment specifically, the treatment strategies outlined in this paper appear to be effective.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)514-524
    Number of pages11
    JournalAlimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics
    Issue number5
    StatePublished - 1 Mar 2011

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Hepatology
    • Gastroenterology
    • Pharmacology (medical)


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