A Rise in Pediatric Pain
Chronic pain in children and adolescents has become more prevalent.
Pediatrics is a branch of medicine concerned with the diagnosis, treatment and wellness of children and adolescents, widely understood to mean from birth to 18 years of age. Children and adolescents affected by chronic pain must deal with a unique set of challenges, which is why pediatric pain specialists are trained to address their issues and needs. In an article titled “The epidemiology of chronic pain in children and adolescents revisited: A systemic review,” printed in the Journal of the International Association for the Study of Pain, researchers from Dalhousie University and the IWK Health Centre, Halifax, Novia Scotia, reported, “We found that persistent and recurrent chronic pain is overwhelmingly prevalent in children and adolescents, with girls generally experiencing more pain than boys and prevalence rates increasing with age.” The study the article focused on also pointed out that children suffering from chronic pain are at a risk of developing internalized symptoms, such as anxiety, in response to their physical distress. Pediatric pain may stem from many of the same originators which afflict adults, such as trauma, injury, illness or disease. The Mayo Clinic reports that its Pediatric Pain Rehabilitation Program regularly sees patients suffering from chronic pain related to postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome, headaches, generalized pain, abdominal pain and complex regional pain syndrome. With a baby, an obvious challenge to the physician is the patient’s inability to communicate the details of his or her pain. The doctor is skilled at relying on many other means to identify symptoms and diagnose the main problem.
Some signs of pain in babies include crying, irritability, inconsistent sleep patterns, poor feeding habits, posture, fear and distrusting behavior. While many of these signs could be seen by the average person to be relatively typical behavior for a baby, a trained professional can interpret these as pain symptoms when taking the patient’s complete situation into consideration. Older children, such as adolescents, who experience chronic pain often suffer from numerous other problems in addition to the physical pain itself. For example, a teenager who is in pain is likely to be moody and inactive at school or absent from extracurricular activities, and have a difficult time making friends. Treatment programs Therefore, just as it is with adults, it is crucial that pediatric pain treatment addresses the patient’s well-being with regard to the mind-body connection. That is to say, it should not only improve the child’s physical condition, but also the emotional and mental aspects of his or her life.