Keep Your Child's Hospital Visit As Painless As Possible

Medically reviewed in February 2022

Kids hate pain. Adults aren't crazy about it either. That's one reason pain control is such a big part of any surgery or invasive procedure. Another reason is that uncontrolled pain can slow or even derail recovery; people who are in agony simply don't heal well and can suffer additional medical problems. What's more, they tend to make very unhappy patients, whether they're 3 or 90 years old. So hospital staffers go to great lengths to keep patients pain-free, or at least as comfortable as medically possible.

Use these tips to minimize your child's pain and discomfort:

 

  • Before surgery, a nurse will probably give your child a mild sedative to make him relaxed and sleepy. Ask the doctor if your child should also receive additional pain medication before or during the surgery, so it's already working when he wakes up in the recovery room.

  • If your child's pain is severe, ask to speak to a pain specialist (usually a specially trained anesthesiologist).

  • Ask about nondrug pain relief, including relaxation techniques such as deep breathing. Your doctor may also recommend heat, cold compresses, massage, rest, position changes, or simply good distractions (such as TV, video games, music, puzzles, or coloring books).

  • If your child needs to take pain medication for a while, be certain that it's carefully monitored. Every time a nurse comes in with medication, check the drug name, dose, and schedule to make sure it's the right amount of the right drug at the right time. Keep tabs on your child's medication schedule so you can hunt down the nurse if a round gets skipped -- or keep an extra dose from being administered.

  • Ask the doctor if your child needs a prescription pain medication or if an over-the-counter product will do the job.

Medically reviewed in January 2020

 

More On

5 Ways to End Kids' Temper Tantrums

video

5 Ways to End Kids' Temper Tantrums
Temper tantrums are common among young kids -- and frustrating for parents. In this Health Smarts video, pediatrician Dr. Tanya Remer Altmann shares 5...
6 Reasons Your Grandkid May Need the ER

article

6 Reasons Your Grandkid May Need the ER
Babysitting your grandkids can be one of the most rewarding experiences of being a grandparent, but a fun trip can quickly take a turn if the little o...
Smart Discipline: Alternatives to Spanking Your Child

video

Smart Discipline: Alternatives to Spanking Your Child
Spanking is not a common way to discipline kids, and research links spanking to lower IQ and self-esteem. In this Health Smarts video, pediatrician Dr...
What Should I Do If My Teen Is Having Trouble Fitting in At School?

video

What Should I Do If My Teen Is Having Trouble Fitting in At School?
Got a teen who's feeling left out? Watch this video featuring psychologist Dr. Jennifer Hartstein to learn an easy way to help her fit in.
Helping kids focus on empathy and compassion

video

Helping kids focus on empathy and compassion