Pain in Children
It can be stressful for your child when they have pain. Your child might feel scared and not know why they have pain or how to feel better. And if your child can't communicate because of their age or a health or developmental condition, it can be hard for you to understand what your child is feeling.
The information here will tell you about different kinds of pain, how your child's pain is assessed and treated, and how to prevent your child from having pain.
This topic will cover 3 kinds of pain:
Acute pain is what you feel when your body is damaged or injured. It usually starts quickly and goes away after a few hours, days, or weeks.
Acute pain can either happen because of an injury or illness or it can be caused by a medical procedure, for example, getting a vaccine or blood test. You can usually see the cause of acute pain such as swelling, a cut, an infected wound, or a burn.
Learn more about acute pain.
Transitional pain describes going from acute to chronic (long-term) pain. It causes changes in your nervous system that affect how you feel and experience this pain.
Many factors affect how your child feels transitional pain, including their body, the injury or illness they had, their mental health, and the supports they have.
Learn more about transitional pain.
Chronic pain is pain that you have all the time or that keeps coming back. This pain lasts more than 3 months and continues even after an injury has healed.
Chronic pain is sometimes called an invisible condition because you may not be able to see the cause. There are no blood tests or x-rays that show how bad chronic pain is.
Chronic pain can be a symptom of a long-term disease (for example, arthritis), or it can be a disease on its own (such as long-term abdominal pain).
Many things affect your child’s experience of chronic pain, such as their genetics, mental health, upbringing, culture, coping skills, and feelings.
Learn more about chronic pain.
Remember that you are your child’s best support. If you think your healthcare provider does not understand your child’s pain, is not offering the right treatments, or treatments aren’t working, talk to them about it.
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This material is not a substitute for the advice of a qualified health professional. This material is intended for general information only and is provided on an "as is", "where is" basis. Although reasonable efforts were made to confirm the accuracy of the information, Alberta Health Services does not make any representation or warranty, express, implied or statutory, as to the accuracy, reliability, completeness, applicability or fitness for a particular purpose of such information. Alberta Health Services expressly disclaims all liability for the use of these materials, and for any claims, actions, demands or suits arising from such use.