Dealing with Children's Pain is Complex

Dealing with children’s pain is complex and not just a matter of assessing and treating them like a small adult. When it comes to children’s pain management, the accurate assessment of pain is paramount for appropriate and effective treatment.

However, “Assessing pain in children can be tricky,” explains associate professor Rebekah Moles, lecturer of pharmacy practice at the University of Sydney. “When questioning a child about their pain, try to use their words like ‘ouch’, ‘sore’, and ‘hurt’. Remember that just because an infant may not be able to communicate doesn’t mean they don’t have pain.

“You may need to use more than just questions to try to find out if there is pain and what the severity is. Pain rating scales are very useful tools. Commonly used scales are the numeric scale where a child is asked to rate their pain on a scale of 1–10 with 10 being the worst pain. These scales can be useful for children that are a little older (aged 8 years plus) that can understand number values.

“For younger children (aged 3–8 years), the faces scale has been used extensively. Yet, parents also need to observe their child’s behaviour. Sometimes children in pain will be very withdrawn, whereas others may be disruptive, so parents need to note changes from their normal behaviour.”

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