|Pain Management: Experiencing Pain
Pain and Children
Children may have pain from illness, treatments, or procedures. It is important to remember that no matter what the cause of your child’s pain, it can be reduced to help them feel better. You can help by working with the child’s healthcare team. Caregivers can often help to identify when a child is in pain.
How Do You Know When a Child is in Pain?
Children express pain in different ways, depending on their stage of development:
- Infants in pain may cry more often and may be difficult to console. They may also look pale and sweaty or not eat as well as usual.
- Toddlers, like infants, may cry more often, be cranky, or be less active than usual. Some toddlers may be able to point to where they hurt. Help the staff to use words that your child is familiar with in identifying pain, such as "owie" or "boo boo.”
- Young children and adolescents can talk about their pain. They can point to where they hurt when they are asked. Sometimes children cannot be very specific about location, and may wave over an entire area when asked where they hurt. Sometimes using a picture of a child’s body or a doll may help your child to point to a more specific place where they feel the pain.
- Some children may be quiet or stoic when they are in pain. It is important to ask your child if they have pain, even though they may not appear to have any discomfort.
Pain Relief in Children
Some of the same kinds of medicine described in the section "Pain Relief Medicine" are used for children, although the dose needs to be based on the weight of the child. Your child may also benefit from some complementary pain treatments as appropriate for their stage of development.
Remember: It is very important to be honest with your child. Children will distrust people who say, "This won’t hurt" if it does. Although we cannot avoid every ache and pain that a child may have, we will make sure your child is as comfortable as possible during this time. You are an important part of the healthcare team, and together, we can provide physical and emotional comfort for your child.
Pain and the Elderly
Many elderly people believe that pain cannot be relieved and are reluctant to report their pain. The truth is, pain is not a normal part of aging. Aging need not alter pain thresholds or tolerance. The similarities of pain experience between elderly and younger patients are far more common than the differences.