Caregiver Profile

Caregiver Profile

Meet Dr. Alyssa Lebel


Medical School

  • Tufts University School of Medicine , 1983 , Boston , MA


  • Boston Floating Hospital for Infants and Children, New England Medical Center , 1985 , Boston , MA


  • Boston Floating Hospital for Infants and Children, New England Medical Center , 1985 , Boston , MA


Child Neurology
  • Massachusetts General Hospital , 1989 , Boston , MA


Pain Management
  • Massachusetts General Hospital , 1991 , Boston , MA

Philosophy of Care

As with many caretakers' histories, my family's experiences focused my early interest in the neurology on understanding the mechanisms of persistent pain and investigating potential treatments for this compelling problem. A psychologist parent provided a balanced introduction to cognitive science and the value of psychological therapies. A mother's central pain disorder following severe infection challenged me to understand pain related to nerve damage. A sister's struggles with the complex symptoms of terminal cancer secured my decision to become a clinician first and, then, a clinician- investigator, with a practice enriched by a comprehensive specialty team, ready access to expert colleagues, academic research, and inquisitive and caring trainees to truly advance the field. My patients are amazing, resilient, and have taught me all I know.


Dr. Lebel earned a degree in Neurobiology from Wellesley College with highest honors as a Durant Scholar in 1979 and then received her MD from Tufts University School of Medicine in 1983, elected into Alpha Omega Alpha (AOA) membership in her third year and awarded the Outstanding Senior Clinical Clerk in Neurology. She completed a residency in Pediatrics at The Floating Hospital for Children, New England Medical Center, followed by completion of fellowship training in Child Neurology and Pain Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) in 1989. She then was recruited to stay at MGH in the Departments of Neurology and Anesthesia, developing novel pediatric pain rehabilitative and cancer pain consultative services as well as serving as an Instructor in Neurology and Anesthesia with clinical contributions as a pediatric neurology attending and a pain medicine attending for the MGH Pain Service. She was awarded Teacher of the Year in Pediatric Neurology in 1994, and, in 1996, the Pain Service LeBel Award for Excellence in Teaching was established at MGH. In Philadelphia from 1996-2001, she established a chronic pediatric pain service at St. Christopher's Hospital for Children and at Hahnemann Hospital. She was appointed Assistant Professor of Neurology at MCP Hahnemann University and Assistant Professor of Neurology and Anesthesia at the University of Pennsylvania. She returned to Boston in 2001 and has been an Assistant and now an Associate Professor of Anesthesia (Neurology) and Senior Associate in the Department of Anesthesiology, Division of Pain Medicine to date. During her most recent time at Boston Children's Hospital, she has developed into a national and international leader in the field of pediatric neuropathic pain, pediatric headache, and functional neuroimaging of pediatric pain disorders.

Postgraduate training, Dr. Lebel chose to devote her clinical practice primarily to the treatment of patients with significant pain, initially in both adults and children with cancer, and then in patients of all ages with intractable neuropathic pain. Early in her career, she sought additional training in regional anesthesia and rehabilitative medicine to provide a comprehensive service for challenging referrals. Concurrently, she maintained a general pediatric neurology outpatient clinic and served as a teaching attending for the Department of Neurology. In Philadelphia, she continued to work for the Departments of Anesthesiology, Pain Division, and Neurology, on the inpatient and outpatient services as well as within a partial hospital program for pain rehabilitation, ultimately focusing on pediatric care while at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. Currently, at Boston Children's Hospital, she has increasingly focused on patients with chronic headache. She has written extensively and lectured nationally and internationally on both the mechanisms and treatment of pediatric headache. She established and directs a multidisciplinary pain-management program for patients with chronic head pain. She is recognized by her colleagues as an expert in the comprehensive assessment and management of pediatric and young adult patients with headache and cranial neuralgia.


  • American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, Child and Adolescent Neurology
  • American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, Pain Medicine
  • Safe Zone Trained


Publications powered by Harvard Catalyst Profiles

  1. From One Pain to Many: The Emergence of Overlapping Pains in Children and Adolescents. Clin J Pain. 2021 06 01; 37(6):404-412. View abstract
  2. Left to themselves: Time to target chronic pain in childhood rare diseases. Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2021 07; 126:276-288. View abstract
  3. Pediatric Episodic Migraine with Aura: A Unique Entity? Children (Basel). 2021 Mar 17; 8(3). View abstract
  4. Pain stickiness in pediatric complex regional pain syndrome: A role for the nucleus accumbens. Neurobiol Pain. 2021 Jan-Jul; 9:100062. View abstract
  5. Altered Brain Network Connectivity Underlies Persistent Post-Traumatic Headache following Mild Traumatic Brain Injury in Youth. J Neurotrauma. 2021 Jun 15; 38(12):1632-1641. View abstract
  6. The Impact of Sleep on Disability and School Functioning: Results From a Tertiary Pediatric Headache Center. J Child Neurol. 2020 03; 35(3):221-227. View abstract
  7. Parenting, self-regulation, and treatment adherence in pediatric chronic headache: A self-determination theory perspective. J Health Psychol. 2021 09; 26(10):1637-1650. View abstract
  8. Pediatric Headache and Sleep Disturbance: A Comparison of Diagnostic Groups - A Response. Headache. 2019 09; 59(8):1387-1388. View abstract
  9. Shifting brain circuits in pain chronicity. Hum Brain Mapp. 2019 10 15; 40(15):4381-4396. View abstract
  10. Migraine in the Young Brain: Adolescents vs. Young Adults. Front Hum Neurosci. 2019; 13:87. View abstract
  11. Predictors of Primary Intracranial Hypertension in Children Using a Newly Suggested Opening Pressure Cutoff of 280 mm H2O. Pediatr Neurol. 2019 02; 91:27-33. View abstract
  12. Design and Reporting Characteristics of Clinical Trials of Select Chronic and Recurrent Pediatric Pain Conditions: An Analgesic, Anesthetic, and Addiction Clinical Trial Translations, Innovations, Opportunities, and Networks Systematic Review. J Pain. 2019 04; 20(4):394-404. View abstract
  13. Differences in Pediatric Headache Prescription Patterns by Diagnosis. Paediatr Drugs. 2018 Jun; 20(3):273-284. View abstract
  14. Rapid Screening of Risk in Pediatric Headache: Application of the Pediatric Pain Screening Tool. J Pediatr Psychol. 2018 04 01; 43(3):243-251. View abstract
  15. Pediatric Headache and Sleep Disturbance: A Comparison of Diagnostic Groups. Headache. 2018 Feb; 58(2):217-228. View abstract
  16. The Sleep Hygiene Inventory for Pediatrics: Development and Validation of a New Measure of Sleep in a Sample of Children and Adolescents With Chronic Headache. J Child Neurol. 2017 Nov; 32(13):1040-1046. View abstract
  17. Age- and sex-related differences in the presentation of paediatric migraine: A retrospective cohort study. Cephalalgia. 2018 05; 38(6):1107-1118. View abstract
  18. In child and adult migraineurs the somatosensory cortex stands out … again: An arterial spin labeling investigation. Hum Brain Mapp. 2017 08; 38(8):4078-4087. View abstract
  19. Parental Attitudes About Placebo Use in Children. J Pediatr. 2017 02; 181:272-278.e10. View abstract
  20. Autonomic dysfunction in pediatric patients with headache: migraine versus tension-type headache. Clin Auton Res. 2016 12; 26(6):455-459. View abstract
  21. Cerebral Proliferative Angiopathy. Pediatr Neurol. 2017 Jan; 66:115-116. View abstract
  22. "Headache Tools to Stay in School": Assessment, Development, and Implementation of an Educational Guide for School Nurses. J Sch Health. 2016 09; 86(9):645-52. View abstract
  23. Psychosis following traumatic brain injury and cannabis use in late adolescence. Am J Addict. 2016 Mar; 25(2):91-3. View abstract
  24. Fear and Reward Circuit Alterations in Pediatric CRPS. Front Hum Neurosci. 2015; 9:703. View abstract
  25. The migraine brain in transition: girls vs boys. Pain. 2015 Nov; 156(11):2212-2221. View abstract
  26. Depression as a mediator of the relation between family functioning and functional disability in youth with chronic headaches. Headache. 2016 Mar; 56(3):491-500. View abstract
  27. Butalbital and pediatric headache: stay off the downward path. Headache. 2015 Feb; 55(2):327-30. View abstract
  28. Rapid treatment-induced brain changes in pediatric CRPS. Brain Struct Funct. 2016 Mar; 221(2):1095-111. View abstract
  29. "Pain Can't Stop Me": Examining Pain Self-Efficacy and Acceptance as Resilience Processes Among Youth With Chronic Headache. J Pediatr Psychol. 2015 Oct; 40(9):926-33. View abstract
  30. Intrinsic brain networks normalize with treatment in pediatric complex regional pain syndrome. Neuroimage Clin. 2014; 6:347-69. View abstract
  31. Harnessing the placebo effect in pediatric migraine clinic. J Pediatr. 2014 Oct; 165(4):659-65. View abstract
  32. Pediatric migraine prescription patterns at a large academic hospital. Pediatr Neurol. 2014 Nov; 51(5):706-12. View abstract
  33. Fear of pain in pediatric headache. Cephalalgia. 2015 Jan; 35(1):36-44. View abstract
  34. The interplay of pain-related self-efficacy and fear on functional outcomes among youth with headache. J Pain. 2014 May; 15(5):527-34. View abstract
  35. Habenula functional resting-state connectivity in pediatric CRPS. J Neurophysiol. 2014 Jan; 111(2):239-47. View abstract
  36. Transient and persistent pain induced connectivity alterations in pediatric complex regional pain syndrome. PLoS One. 2013; 8(3):e57205. View abstract
  37. Relations between pain characteristics, child and parent variables, and school functioning in adolescents with chronic headache: a comparison of tension-type headache and migraine. J Pediatr Psychol. 2013 May; 38(4):351-64. View abstract
  38. School functioning and chronic tension headaches in adolescents: improvement only after multidisciplinary evaluation. J Child Neurol. 2013 Jun; 28(6):719-24. View abstract
  39. The young brain and concussion: imaging as a biomarker for diagnosis and prognosis. Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2012 Jul; 36(6):1510-31. View abstract
  40. Mapping pain activation and connectivity of the human habenula. J Neurophysiol. 2012 May; 107(10):2633-48. View abstract
  41. Pediatric analgesic clinical trial designs, measures, and extrapolation: report of an FDA scientific workshop. Pediatrics. 2012 Feb; 129(2):354-64. View abstract
  42. Commentary: health and behavior codes in a pediatric headache program: reimbursement data and recommendations for practice. J Pediatr Psychol. 2012 Jun; 37(5):509-13. View abstract
  43. The pediatrician's guide to managing the difficult pediatric headache patient. Clin Pediatr (Phila). 2012 Feb; 51(2):175-80. View abstract
  44. Recommendations for the pharmacological management of neuropathic pain: an overview and literature update. Mayo Clin Proc. 2010 Mar; 85(3 Suppl):S3-14. View abstract
  45. Neuropathic pain in children: Special considerations. Mayo Clin Proc. 2010 Mar; 85(3 Suppl):S33-41. View abstract
  46. Challenges of functional imaging research of pain in children. Mol Pain. 2009 Jun 16; 5:30. View abstract
  47. Pharmacology. J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 2008 Nov; 47(5):703-5. View abstract
  48. fMRI reveals distinct CNS processing during symptomatic and recovered complex regional pain syndrome in children. Brain. 2008 Jul; 131(Pt 7):1854-79. View abstract
  49. Complex regional pain syndromes in children and adolescents. Anesthesiology. 2005 Feb; 102(2):252-5. View abstract
  50. Patterns of spread in complex regional pain syndrome, type I (reflex sympathetic dystrophy). Pain. 2000 Dec 01; 88(3):259-266. View abstract
  51. Functional G-CSF pathways in t(8;21) leukemic cells allow for differentiation induction and degradation of AML1-ETO. Hematol J. 2000; 1(5):316-28. View abstract