As a parent or family member, you play a big role in helping ease your child’s pain. Your calming presence and reassurance that everything will be OK goes a long way in helping your child feel relaxed and confident.
Approaches to Pain Management
A child’s pain might come from an injury, after surgery, or be related to the flare-up of a chronic condition, such as sickle cell anemia, Crohn’s disease, or cancer. Pain can also come from a blood draw or from placement of an intravenous (IV) line. No matter the source, it’s best to treat pain early and tailor treatment specifically for your child. This helps your child to begin healing.
Step One: Partnership—You know your child best, so please tell us what usually works to comfort and calm your child.
Step Two: Positioning—We teach you how to hold or support your child so they feel secure or more in control of the situation.
Step Three: Numbing Options—When a child needs a blood draw or a medical treatment that could be painful, we use numbing creams to help reduce pain where possible.
Step Four: Distraction—Using music, singing, bubbles, and other distractions, we give your child something to focus on other than the procedure.
Step Five: Sucrose—Breastfeeding or receiving sugar water on a pacifier can distract and comfort a baby under age 1.
There are medicines that are safe and effective in reducing pain in children. Often these medicines are taken by mouth or given by IV infusion.
If your child is old enough, they might receive a patient-controlled analgesia pump. This device allows your child to receive pain medication instantly through an IV line when they decide it is needed. The pump is carefully designed so that your child can only receive a safe dose.
When a child is too young to control their own pain medication, our nurses frequently evaluate your child. A nurse is always available to help your child get the level of pain relief they need.
If you believe your child is in pain and the typical approaches aren’t helping, talk with their doctor or nurse. Our pain management team can provide a consultation.
For more severe pain, we offer regional anesthesia, such as injectable nerve blocks and spinal medications, as well as epidural catheters. They allow a continuous supply of pain-relieving medication to be delivered directly to the source of the pain. Regional anesthesia allows us to avoid using prescription pain medicine. Younger children often receive regional anesthesia while they are asleep during surgery. Older children receive it with sedation before surgery.
Additional Support for Pain Management
Medication is only one way to manage pain. Nonmedical approaches are also highly effective.