Although medical professionals and pediatricians do their best to provide relief to children who are in pain, it can often be a complex task to gauge an accurate measurement of pain. This is especially the case with younger children who may have difficulties accurately expressing what they feel. Generally, there are three ways in which pediatricians assess measures of pain in their young patients. The three assessments are:
- Behavioral measures: When a pediatrician uses a behavioral measurement of pain to assess a child, the child will be evaluated by their overall behavior. For example The kind of facial expressions they have, what their motor responses are, if they are crying, and/or their sleep-wake patterns.
- Self-reported measures: During a self-reported measurement of pain assessment, the pediatrician may show your child pictures that reflect different emotions and ask them to choose which one best represents how they are feeling. The pediatrician may also ask your child to rate their pain on a scale of 1-10.
- Physiologic measures: Pediatricians may use physiologic assessment measures by taking your child’s pulse changes and blood pressure, along with taking note of palm sweating.
Pain is an intricate subject as not one individual feels pain the exact way another does, and there are many different ways we can experience pain. For this reason, there are many ways that pediatricians may approach pain relief for children. One of the most common ways to treat pain in children is through the use of medications. These medications may include:
- Pain medications: For pain that is on the mild side, your child’s pediatrician may recommend over-the-counter medication such as; Acetaminophen (Tylenol), or Ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil). These medications are typically easily accessible and a quick fix for mild causes of pain in your child. Your child’s pediatrician may also prescribe them opioids, which are narcotic drugs such as; tramadol and codeine. These drugs require a prescription from a doctor because they are much stronger than over-the-counter medications. Generally, opioids are used to treat short-term pain after a surgical procedure.
- Antidepressants: By adjusting the brain's levels of natural chemicals, also known as ‘neurotransmitters’, antidepressants treat both emotional conditions and pain. These medications do not only give the body signals to relax, but they also enable pain control for those experiencing chronic pain.
- Patient-controlled analgesia (PCA): This method of pain control gives the patient the power to control their pain. A computerized pump containing a syringe with pain medication is connected to the patient's intravenous (IV) line. With this pump, the patient can press the button as needed to self-administer the medication. Children four to six years old may be allowed to use PCA with the help of their parent or a nurse. Children over the age of six can (in most instances) use a PCA independently.
- Epidural analgesia: During epidural analgesia, pain medication is injected into the spinal cord where the epidural space is located. This form of pain management is common after major surgery of the lower extremities such as; abdominal or spinal surgeries.
It is important to note that although these types of pain medications can be given to both children and adults, the dosing is not the same for children. Because medications are based on an individual’s weight, dosages will likely be smaller for children when compared to adults. It is imperative for the safety of the child that parents follow the exact dosage their child’s pediatrician has prescribed to them. Please do not give your child any medications without first consulting with a certified doctor.
At the office of SuraMed Health Center PA, our priority is to assure your child receives the care they deserve. Please contact us to schedule your child’s appointment today.