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Pain and Pain Management

At ProMedica Toledo Children’s Hospital, we believe each child has a voice when it comes to assessment, prevention and treatment of pain.

We treat pediatric patients with the understanding that:

  • good pain control is important to getting better and makes it easier for children to cope with being in the hospital.
  • Children as young as 2 years of age can tell adults where it hurts by pointing to their body.
  • Children might hide their pain because they think they will get a “shot.”
  • Children may not ask for pain medication because they think adults know how they are feeling.
  • Children do not become accustomed to pain or painful things that are done to them.
  • Addiction to the narcotics used for pain management is rare in children.
  • Giving medicine to treat a child’s pain is just as important as giving medicine to treat a child’s illness.

For a child, there are two aspects of pain: the bodily pain felt with an event such as a blood draw or an IV start; and how he or she feels about the pain – including memories, what he or she learns from others, how his or her health is at the time, and whether the pain is quick. For babies, bodily pain is felt prior to birth, as early as 24 weeks gestation (or six months). We know that babies do feel pain and discomfort, regardless of how they express it.

Working together to identify when a child is in pain:

  • The best way to find out about a child’s pain is to ask him or her.
  • Toledo Children’s Hospital uses one of three tools to know how much pain a child is in, depending on the child:
    • for children who can speak
    • for children who cannot speak
    • for babies
  • How a child acts may not show how much pain he or she feels.
  • A child may sleep more or play harder when he or she is in pain.
  • Hospital caregivers will monitor a child’s pain by observing how he or she acts, as well as through regular checks of his or her heart rate, breathing and blood pressure.
  • Caregivers depend on parents, legal guardians and custodians to help them know when a child is in pain, as the child may be afraid to tell the caregivers.

Working together to treat pain:

  • Almost all pain can be treated by medicine that is taken by the mouth.
  • Pain “shots” are almost never needed.
  • It is best to give pain medicine around the clock, including during the night when a child might be sleeping.
  • Preventive treatment is best, because pain medication takes awhile to work and a child may not be able to identify the early onset of pain.
  • A school-age child may receive pain medicine by a patient controlled analgesia (PCA) machine, which is connected to his or her IV and gives a small, constant flow of pain medicine. If needed, the child can receive more medicine by pushing a button, but it is very important that only the child pushes the button to ensure he/she doesn’t receive too much medication.
  • There are many ways you can help comfort your child, such as rocking, cuddling, offering a pacifier, talking, singing, or other soothing activities.
  • Not all children react to comforting efforts the same way – what works well for one child may not work with another.
  • It is important to carefully watch how your child acts when trying any of these ideas. If something isn’t working, try something different.

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