When chronic pain affects a child, the situation quickly becomes more complex than an adult case. From developing bodies to psychological factors, kids have unique needs. Finding proper treatment requires a specialized approach tailored to the pediatric population. That’s where dedicated pediatric pain clinics come in. These clinics focus on the comprehensive needs of babies, children and teenagers living with acute or chronic pain.
Common Pediatric Pain Conditions
Children and adolescents can face pain resulting from:
- Injuries – Both sports injuries and accidental injuries from falls and mishaps that exceed a young body’s resilience.
- Headaches – Tension headaches and migraines.
- Abdominal pain – Can result from bowel diseases, menstruation, or be of unclear origin.
- Musculoskeletal pain – Growing bones and muscle tissues are vulnerable to constant aches or joint pain from conditions like juvenile arthritis.
- Surgeries – Post-surgical pain and neuralgia resulting from surgical nerve damage are common.
- Illnesses – Diseases like sickle cell anemia or cancer frequently involve substantial pain.
- Neuropathies – Diabetes, chemotherapy drugs, and other causes can create nerve pain.
- Unexplained pain – Some kids have serious pain that cannot be fully diagnosed by tests.
Pediatricians are typically the first line of treatment. But children with moderate-to-severe pain often benefit from the wide-ranging expertise provided by pain management physicians in pain specialty clinics such as KindlyMD, based out of Utah.
Like general pain clinics for adults, the best pediatric pain clinics use an interdisciplinary team. Core specialists include:
- Pediatric pain physicians to oversee care and prescribe pain medications appropriate for growing bodies.
- Physical therapists specially trained in safe, therapeutic techniques for kids to improve mobility and function.
- Child psychologists to address emotional aspects of early pain experiences and teach coping skills.
- Child life specialists who employ distraction techniques to help young patients handle procedures and therapies.
- Nurses experienced in pediatric pain assessment since kids may struggle to communicate their symptoms.
Additional complementary providers like massage therapists, acupuncturists and integrative medicine doctors may provide therapies to avoid or reduce medications when possible. A collaborative approach delivers the most complete pain care.
Age-Appropriate Treatment Options
Pediatric pain clinics tailor all treatments to the child’s developmental stage:
- Non-verbal therapies for infants like therapeutic touch and music therapy.
- Play-based physical therapy with toys and games for engagement.
- Behavioral approaches to teach pain self-management skills to school-aged kids.
- Support groups that allow teens to connect with others experiencing chronic pain.
- Creative arts and technology as distractions before/after procedures.
The clinic environment is also designed to be cheerful, engaging and child friendly. Animal therapy dogs allay anxiety as well. The goal is to make young patients as comfortable as possible.
Pediatric pain clinics use specialized techniques to enable effective results from injections and surgeries while minimizing trauma:
- General anesthesia is often employed to allow thorough treatment while patients sleep.
- Ultrasound and fluoroscopy guidance enable precise needle placement without excessive localization x-rays.
- Smaller gauge needles reduce injection discomfort.
- Low-volume/low-dose injectates are effective for smaller bodies.
- Distraction therapy helps children remain still and calm during procedures.
Minimizing the discomfort, stress and memories associated with early procedures prevents amplification of pain over time.
Since pediatric patients rely heavily on parents for adherence, pediatric clinics emphasize family education and involvement. Parents learn methods like massage, meditation, physical therapy exercises and dietary changes to help their child manage pain at home. Helping families become active participants fosters an integrated approach.
Pediatric pain clinics aim to provide each child the very best chance at living a full, active life, whether their pain proves temporary or lifelong. By easing suffering as much as possible early on, pain management physicians hope to prevent exacerbation of symptoms into adulthood.