One of the most difficult things for a parent to experience is the sight of their child in pain. It's bad enough when your child's pain is temporary and minor, caused by something as simple and treatable as an ear infection or a sprained wrist. But when your child has a serious illness that causes pain on an ongoing basis, you can be left feeling helpless, overwhelmed, and unsure how to help your child cope.
Dealing with chronic pain at any age is never going to be easy, but there are things you can do as a parent to help your child feel better. Take a look at some tips for helping your child deal with chronic pain.
Be Alert to Signs of Pain
Pain may not manifest in children the same way it manifests in adults. Even doctors trained in treating chronic illnesses may miss signs of pain in children, because they don't act the same way adult patients in pain tend to act. Additionally, small children may lack the vocabulary to express what they're feeling. As their parent, you know your child better than anyone, and you'll be better able to spot the signs that something isn't right. This can help you determine when to dispense prescribed pain medication or when to ask the doctor about different treatment options.
Look for unusually cranky or irritable behavior. Children in pain may act up and be difficult to control, or they may be clingy, needy, and whiny. Changes in their sleeping habits and appetite may also indicate your child is experiencing pain. Keep your eyes open for physical signs of pain like frowning, wincing, gasping, sweating, or rapid breathing.
A visual pain scale, like the FACES pain scale, can be used to help non-verbal or minimally verbal children express the level of pain they're feeling – they can simply indicate the face that corresponds to the amount of pain they're feeling, rather than trying to find the words.
Be an Advocate
You may have to be more assertive in asking your child's doctors for help with pain management than you would be in another situation. It's easy for doctors to overlook treating pain symptoms because they're busy trying to diagnose and treat the problem causing the pain in the first place.
Obviously, you want them to treat the underlying disease, but your child shouldn't have to suffer in the meantime. Many children see doctors as authority figures and are unlikely to question them, and may feel shy about speaking up. That means it's your job to speak up for your child.
Don't be afraid to ask about new treatments and therapies or request a change if a particular medication is not working the way it should. You can often find support groups, either locally or online, for parents of children suffering from various chronic illnesses. Consider joining one; these can be a good resource for you to find out what has worked for other families and can give you ideas to ask your doctor about.
Consider Alternative and Complementary Treatments
Traditional pain medications are not always as useful for children as they are for adults. Children's bodies often react differently to pain medications than adult bodies do. What's more, strong medications can do more damage more quickly to a child's small organs. The smaller dosages safe for children may not be as effective against pain as you might like.
Alternative and complementary pain relief techniques can be helpful in closing the pain gap left by traditional medications. These strategies can range from acupuncture to herbal therapies to music, art, and play therapies. Sometimes pain management clinics offer several of these treatments in conjunction with more typical pain management strategies.
Other alternative therapies may require seeking out a separate provider. Always discuss any alternative pain relief strategies you're considering with your child's medical team to avoid any possible drug interactions or interference with the current treatment plan.
Finding a pain management strategy that works for your child may take some time, and may require trying several different methods before you hit on a plan that works. The pain management plan may also need to change over time. Having a good pain management specialist on your child's medical team can help ensure your child doesn't suffer needlessly. Visit sites like http://www.pottershouserx.com for more information.