Abdominal pain can be an indication of a specific underlying disease, but in many sufferers, establishing a diagnosis is difficult, especially if the pain is longstanding, recurrent, and without specific pathophysiological abnormality. Such pain is thought to be visceral in origin, because most often it has an indistinct, crampy character and is poorly localized. The terminology used to describe abdominal pain of no specific etiology is as diverse and confusing as the theories surrounding its existence. Surgeons refer to it as nonspecific abdominal pain, older textbooks comment on nonorganic pain, and pain in children is known as recurrent abdominal pain (RAP). Whatever term clinicians, researchers, or patients themselves use to describe this condition is somewhat arbitrary. For convenience, the terms "visceral pain'' and "functional abdominal pain'' will be used interchangeably throughout this chapter.
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