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Teen Ache-ers

Discusses the psychological cause of psychosomatic musculoskeletal pain (PMP) which lead to some students to drop out of social activities. Characteristics of teenagers who usually develop PMP; Ways to deal it.

Kids are vulnerable to a special kind of stress-induced sports injury. Muscleand joint pain may become so debilitating for some adolescent athletes that they drop out of sports, social activities, and even school--yet doctors find nothing wrong with them physically. Such pains, termed "psychosomatic musculoskeletal pain," or PMP, typically stem from the pressures and changes that occur during adolescence. Teens with PMP are usually perfect athletes and students who never cause trouble; often they're 13-year-old girls worried about menstruation, dating, and their budding breasts. But instead of facing their concerns head-on, says University of Washington rheumatologist David Sherry, M.D., these kids develop PMP as a "graceful way to check out." Their whole body may hurt, or just certain limbs or joints. Ilona Szer, M.D., of San Diego's Children's Hospital, stresses that teens with PMP aren't faking it. But they should talk to a counselor to learn how to release their emotions constructively. After counseling, kids' participation in snorts and other activities usually returns to normal.