Could Dad Be To Blame For Chronic Pain Woes?

Sartell Injury DoctorA study out of Japan suggests that how parents bond with their children during adolescence could impact the child’s likelihood of developing chronic pain later in life.

Furthermore, the study suggests that children who had a poor bond with their father were the only group to show a significant increase in chronic pain likelihood.

The goal of the study was to better understand chronic pain as a complex biopsychosocial condition and how outside psychosocial factors like pain, pain-related fear, self-efficacy, anxiety, depression and psychological distress feed into that perception of pain.

For their study, researchers polled nearly 800 adults about their relationship with their parents and their overall health. Participants completed the Parental Bonding Instrument, a self-administered questionnaire that assessed perceived parental bonding, as well as a health assessment. The PBI test asked respondents several questions about their relationship with their parents growing up, including questions about the perceived level of bonding, over/underparenting, affection and discipline as well as control and understanding. Participants took the survey twice, once while contemplating their relationship with their father and the next while answering questions about their mother.

After comparing the PBI results with the results from the health exam, researchers uncovered:

  • Compared to the optimal bonding group, the odds ratio for having chronic pain was much higher in the affectionless control group for paternal bonding and for maternal bonding.
  • When adjusting for other factors, significance remained only for parental bonding.

“The fact that fathers have been shown to be much more likely to use physical punishment and abuse than mothers in several epidemiological studies may also be related to these findings,” the study authors wrote. “Clearly, further studies are needed to elucidate the mechanism(s) whereby parental care affects the development of chronic pain in a gender-dependent fashion.”

Researchers concluded by saying that mass-education on parenting behaviors for optimal bonding may be one of the most promising chronic pain prevention techniques that few are pursuing.

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Thomas Cohn, MD

Interventional pain doctor helping Minnesotans manage back, neck, foot, and other pain. Board-certified in physical medicine and rehabilitation with additional board-certification in pain management from the American Board of Anesthesiology (ABA), the American Board of Interventional Pain Physicians (ABIPP) and the American Board of Pain Medicine (ABPM).