- Give medications just as the doctor prescribes.
- Treat nausea. Some pain medications cause nausea and vomiting. Ask your doctor or nurse how to introduce foods in a way that prevents nausea.
- Feed your child healthy foods. Start with simple foods such as cooked cereal, applesauce, and toast. Greasy foods (such as hamburgers or fries) can cause nausea.
- Treat constipation. Encourage your child to drink fluids and eat high-fiber foods such as whole-grain bread.
- Keep a normal routine. Help your child wake up, eat, bathe, and do what she can at the times she normally does.
- Balance activity and rest. Help balance between normal activity and the rest she needs for recovery.
- Maintain the rules. Have your child keep the normal rules of your household. Have her do what is normally expected of her and other people in the house.
- Spend time together. As your child gets better and you move back into your normal routine, be sure to make time to be together and talk about what she's going through.
Pain is your body telling you that you have hurt it. This is a good thing, important when you are injured. It can also help diagnose problems with your body. Sometimes pain continues long after it's necessary. Amputees report phantom pain in the legs or arms they no longer have. There are different kinds of pain, and describing the type is useful in diagnosis: recurring, constant, steady, knife-like, radiating, sharp, dull. Medicines that dull pain are analgesics. Those that kill all feeling are anesthetics.
1 AnswerYour child may be well enough to leave the hospital before all her pain is gone. These are things you can do:
1 AnswerIn addition to medications, your child needs love and understanding from you and other caregivers. Here are some things that might make your child feel better.
- Talk with your child. Be honest with your child and prepare her for what may be happening next. Let her make choices whenever possible.
- Touch your child. Rubbing your child's back, arms, legs, or feet may take her mind off the pain. If your child is unable to move on her own, change her position from time to time. If medical equipment is in the way, ask if it can be moved.
- Apply cold or heat. Cold packs can reduce swelling and help with short-term pain. Warmth can soothe aching muscles and stiff joints. Ask your healthcare providers for direction before using cold or heat.
- Help your child think about something else. Ask your child to describe her favorite place, using all her senses. What does it look like? What can you smell, hear, or taste there? How does it feel?
- Help your child relax. Deep breathing and relaxation exercises can help your child relax and feel better. Your healthcare providers can give you ideas about this.
- Distract your child with music or games. Play your child's favorite music. Sing to your child or have your child sing. Let her play a handheld electronic game.
1 AnswerYour child's pain medication can be delivered in the following ways:
- As a pill or a liquid
- As an injection
- Through an IV (intravenous line)
- Through an inhaler or spray
- As a cream or a patch
1 AnswerWhen your child is in pain, it's important to do everything possible to help. This includes both medical treatments, like giving medication, and nonmedical comforts, like playing soft music or holding her hand. You and your child's healthcare providers can work together to find the best pain management plan for your child.
Pain medications are designed to control the feelings of pain in all or part of your child's body. Especially at the beginning, most pain medications may control some or most of the pain, but not all of it. With time, medications should be able to control more of the pain. Your child may also be given medications to help control her fear and worry. Being able to relax will allow her body to focus more on healing physically.
1 AnswerMany pain medications don't get rid of all the pain but can help reduce it to a more comfortable level. The goal is to find the most pain relief with the fewest side effects and risks. If the medication is not controlling your child's pain, tell your healthcare provider. The doctor may try to find another method of pain management or may ask for the advice of a pain specialist. If you feel your child's needs are not being met, you can ask for the opinion of another doctor.
1 AnswerSuccessful pain management may not always take away all of your child's pain. The goal of pain management is to reduce the pain enough that your child can rest and can do the activities that will help him recover. To help make the best plan for your child's care, your child's healthcare providers will set a "pain management goal."
A pain management goal has three parts:
- Your child's comfort. Your child needs to have the things that normally make him comfortable. These can include staying warm and not throwing up. They also include your child's unique ways of comforting himself, such as the ability to suck his thumb or a binky.
- Your child's ability to function. There are certain things your child needs to be able to do in order to get better. These can include walking, crawling, coughing, breathing deeply, or eating or sleeping better.
- Your child's current pain score. Healthcare providers will use one of the methods to assess your child's level of pain. At this level of pain, is your child able to do the things he needs to do to recover? For example, can he stop throwing up long enough to digest a meal? Can he walk and breathe deeply?
A pain management goal helps your child's healthcare providers know if the pain treatments are working well enough. If your child is not comfortable enough to do what he needs to do to recover, the doctor may change his pain treatment.
1 AnswerTo treat your child's pain, healthcare providers need to know how much pain he is feeling. Several tools can be used to help your child express this. Your child's ability to understand and communicate will help determine which tool is used.
A behavioral scale, called the FLACC (Face, Legs, Activity, Cry, Consolability) scale, can help rate the pain of a child who cannot speak. A healthcare provider will rate your child's pain by watching your child's face, legs, activity, crying, and how easily he can be consoled.
With a FACES scale, a child who is alert can say or point to the face that shows how much pain he is feeling.
Using a number scale, a child who understands numbers and can speak can rate his own pain on a scale from 0 to 10. Zero means no pain at all, and 10 means the worst pain imaginable.
If your child is able, his healthcare providers may also ask him to describe the pain. They'll want to know these things about it:
- Where does it hurt? It hurts in my tummy, arm, knee. The pain moves around.
- When does it hurt? It hurts just sometimes. It hurts all the time.
- What does it feel like? It feels sharp like a knife. It's pounding. It burns. It feels like pins and needles.
- What makes it feel worse? Sitting up makes it feel worse. It hurts more when I'm talking or swallowing. It hurts more when my mom goes away or there are too many people in the room.
- What makes it feel better? I feel better when I shut my eyes and hold my blankie. Playing a video game makes me feel better. I feel better when I'm watching TV.
1 AnswerThese are responses to pain you might see in a child of any age:
- Increased demand for attention and increased crying.
- Regression. Your child may return to behaviors of a younger child.
- Sleep difficulties. She may be afraid to sleep alone, be more afraid of the dark, or have nightmares or night terrors.
- Anxiety. Your child may be watching out all the time for something painful or scary to happen.
- Fear of strangers or distrust of people she doesn't know, especially healthcare workers.
- Nervous behaviors such as scratching, picking, or nail biting.
- Eating problems. Your child may not want to eat.
- Anger. Your child may get angry about things that normally don't bother her.
- Concern about her body and more fear or curiosity about death.
1 AnswerA child's age and understanding of what causes pain can affect her behavior and sense of well-being. Here are some things to consider at each age:
- Newborns, 0 to 3 months, may cry a lot, even when being comforted. A newborn may grunt or groan, hiccup, clench her fists, or spread her fingers wide apart. She may put her hands near her mouth. She may have trouble sleeping or trouble staying awake. She may startle easily, and resist being touched by making jerky movements or arching her back when being held.
- Infants and toddlers, 1 to 3 years old, may want to be held all the time and fear separation from you. A strong sign of pain is that your toddler may not be interested in toys or activities she usually enjoys. Under extreme pain, she may show behaviors such as hitting herself or thrashing around. Although she can only use a few words to describe the pain, she may be able to point to the place that hurts.
- Preschoolers, 3 to 5 years old, often struggle to understand why they hurt and when the pain will stop. A preschooler may think her pain is punishment for bad behavior. She may create pretend reasons for why she's in pain. When she plays, she may want to repeat themes of illness, injury, or the hospital. This can help her make sense of what is happening to her.
- School-age children, 5 to 12 years old, can understand simple explanations of why they have pain and how long it will last. While a school-age child can usually tell you where and how much she hurts, she may try to be brave and pretend she's not in pain. Or, she may exaggerate descriptions of her experience and the pain. She may also be afraid that medical treatments will change her body permanently.
- Teenagers, 12 to 18 years old, may be afraid to lose control of what's happening to them or be worried that they could die from the pain. A teenager may try to be brave and pretend she's not in pain. She may not want to describe the pain well because she may feel uncomfortable about her body. She may assume that other people know what she's thinking or may think that she is the only one who has ever felt the pain she feels.