Childhood Pain Research

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We offer comfort, support and encouragement to children and families. Our compassionate team is by your side every step of the way. Call 310-825-0867 to connect with us.

Our physicians and psychologists at the UCLA Childhood Pain Research Program work together to carry out research to understand the development of acute to chronic pain in children and how to prevent pain in childhood from progressing to pain in adulthood. 

We study risk factors, such as sex differences in pain, the role of menstruation on pain systems in girls, the role of puberty in pain, and how family, genetic, school and social factors can impact a child's pain. We have a special interest in medical conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome, and study the brain/pain/gut micro biome relationships, using brain imaging, strategies for studying the efficacy of central pain inhibition, and intestinal bacteria. Our program also has a long history of research on long term survivors of childhood cancer looking at quality of life, pain, psychological and physical outcomes and developing interventions to reduce distress and pain.

We also study pain interventions including yoga, mindfulness, dance, music, hypnotherapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, among others. 

We not only want to know if these treatments work to reduce pain and other symptoms but HOW they work biologically and in whom they work best.   

Our Program Faculty & Research Staff

Our Recent Publications

Open & Ongoing Studies

  • "Brain Connectivity and Structure, Pain Inhibition, and Gut Microbiota in Pediatric Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)"
    • Description: The aim of this study is to use functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) technology to characterize brain structure and functioning, and differences in brain-pain-gut pathways in healthy control girls and girls with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). If you are a female aged 7-17 years and you are either healthy OR diagnosed with IBS, you may be eligible to participate in this study. If you are interested in participating, please contact Kirsten Lung at (310) 500-8680 or [email protected].
    • Team Members: Jennie C. I. Tsao, PhD (Principal Investigator), Lonnie K. Zeltzer, MD (Co-Investigator), Subhadra Evans, PhD (Co-Investigator), Kirsten Tillisch, MD (Co-Investigator), Bruce D. Naliboff, PhD (Co-Investigator)
  • "Central Pain Mechanisms in Primary Dysmenorrhea" 
    • Description: This study is examining pain responses in adolescent girls and young women (ages 16 to 25) with AND without menstrual cramps.  If you are a girl who either does or does not experience menstrual cramps, you may be eligible to participate in the study.  For more information, please contact Kirsten Lung at (310) 500-8680 or [email protected].
    • Team Members: Laura A. Payne, PhD (Principal Investigator), Lonnie K. Zeltzer, MD (Mentor), Andrea J. Rapkin, MD (Co-Mentor), Bruce D. Naliboff, PhD (Co-Mentor), Jennie C. I. Tsao, PhD (Co-Mentor)