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Functional Abdominal Cramping Pain: Expert Practical Guidance

Müller-Lissner, Stefan; Andresen, Viola; Corsetti, Maura; Bustos Fernández, Luis; Forestier, Sylvie; Pace, Fabio; Valdovinos, Miguel A.

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Stefan Müller-Lissner

Viola Andresen

Clinical Associate Professor

Luis Bustos Fernández

Sylvie Forestier

Fabio Pace

Miguel A. Valdovinos


Functional abdominal cramping pain (FACP) is a common complaint, which may present either on its own or in association with a functional gastrointestinal disorder. It is likely caused by a variety of, probably partly unknown, etiologies. Effective management of FACP can be challenging owing to the lack of usable diagnostic tools and the availability of a diverse range of treatment approaches. Practical guidance for their selection and use is limited. The objective of this article is to present a working definition of FACP based on expert consensus, and to propose practical strategies for the diagnosis and management of this condition for physicians, pharmacists, and patients. A panel of experts on functional gastrointestinal disorders was convened to participate in workshop activities aimed at defining FACP and agreeing upon a recommended sequence of diagnostic criteria and management recommendations. The key principles forming the foundation of the definition of FACP and suggested management algorithms include the primacy of cramping pain as the distinguishing symptom; the importance of recognizing and acting upon alarm signals of potential structural disease; the recognition of known causes that might be addressed through lifestyle adjustment; and the central role of antispasmodics in the treatment of FACP. The proposed algorithm is intended to assist physicians in reaching a meaningful diagnostic endpoint based on patient-reported symptoms of FACP. We also discuss how this algorithm may be adapted for use by pharmacists and patients.


Müller-Lissner, S., Andresen, V., Corsetti, M., Bustos Fernández, L., Forestier, S., Pace, F., & Valdovinos, M. A. (2022). Functional Abdominal Cramping Pain: Expert Practical Guidance. Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology, 56(10), 844-852.

Journal Article Type Review
Acceptance Date Sep 1, 2022
Online Publication Date Sep 23, 2022
Publication Date 2022-11
Deposit Date Oct 21, 2022
Publicly Available Date Oct 25, 2022
Journal Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology
Print ISSN 0192-0790
Electronic ISSN 1539-2031
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 56
Issue 10
Pages 844-852
Keywords functional abdominal cramping pain, functional gas-trointestinal disorder, antispasmodic, spasmolytic, primary care
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