Relieve Your Child's Chronic Pain : A Doctor's Program for Easing Headaches, Abdominal Pain, Fibromyalgia, Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis, and More
An essential survival guide for parents whose children suffer with persistent and often debilitating pain
Approximately ten million children are living with chronic pain. Most people would be surprised at such numbers, but for the parents of these children, the challenge of helping a pain-stricken child live a normal life is a frightening and frustrating reality. Chronic pain in children can manifest as abdominal, migraine, or facial pain. It also stems from a wide variety of disorders such as juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, cystic fibrosis, hemophilia, and childhood cancers. No matter what type of chronic pain the child suffers with, a parent must be armed with an understanding of how a child's expression and experience of pain differs from an adult's.
Trained in pediatric anesthesia and intensive care at Boston Children's Hospital, Dr. Elliot Krane has devoted his entire professional life to refining and innovating techniques, strategies, and therapies to relieve the suffering of children with pain. In his book, Relieve Your Child's Chronic Pain, parents will find the information and tools they need to get the very best care for their child. It will help you:
Recognize, measure, and evaluate your child's pain properly
Learn about the many alternative pain-management approaches that can be used at home
Dispel fears about addiction if your child is prescribed a narcotic
Find an appropriate pain-management clinic for your child
Reduce the stress and anxiety in the home in a way that benefits the entire family
You may not always be able to eliminate chronic pain entirely, but you can succeed in minimizing your child's suffering.
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March 14, 2005
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Excerpt from Relieve Your Child's Chronic Pain by Elliot J. Krane
As a parent or grandparent, it is unimaginably difficult to watch a child suffer, to want to relieve the pain but not know where to turn or what approach to use. Your frustration and anger, anxiety and fear are understandable. Yet these very human emotions, which are displays of your love and concern, can get in the way of the very goal you wish to achieve: to relieve your child's pain and suffering. While health-care practitioners are usually successful at relieving acute pain -- a burst appendix, a broken arm, an abscessed tooth -- the same can't be said about chronic pain. If your child experiences chronic pain, you're probably feeling all the emotions we just mentioned.
The good news is, you can channel those emotions into positive, effective actions that can help you help your child. That's what this book is about: showing you how you can encourage your child to live his or her life to the fullest, with as little pain and discomfort as possible.
My decades of experience in working with children who live with chronic pain have shown me that even with the worst cases of childhood pain, we can still make a positive difference in the lives of these children and help make their childhood experience a more positive one. To make that difference, there are three main things you, as parents, need to do:
* understand the unique nature of childhood pain
* know where and how to get competent help for your child's pain
* have a comprehensive understanding of all the treatment options available to you
I firmly believe that in order for people to overcome an obstacle or beat an opponent, it's necessary to understand what they are up against. Childhood pain can be a formidable opponent, but armed with the proper tools, you can learn how to combat it and teach your child to have some control over it. In this chapter and the next, we explore the features of childhood pain so you will have a clear understanding of how pain works in young people. Be prepared to put aside some or all of your preconceived notions about childhood pain, and enter the world of childhood once again.
How Common Is Childhood Pain?
It's a fact of life: children get hurt, and they experience pain. They run through the house, jump off the furniture, tumble down stairs, fall off their bikes, and generally barrel through life. Along the way, they get cuts and bruises, sprains and strains, and sometimes a broken bone or worse. They also tend to experience bouts of minor medical problems, such as colds, flu, and earaches. In fact, during a one-month period, a normal, healthy child experiences about four acute painful events. Acute means the pain is short-lived and usually can be identified and described easily.
Thus, if your ten-year-old daughter has a tooth pulled, she can expect to feel throbbing pain after the Novocain wears off and will likely need to take ibuprofen for a day or two until the pain subsides. If your three-year-old son has his tonsils removed, he will experience postoperative pain for several days, which will be treated with painkillers and plenty of ice cream. And when your eight-year-old takes a bad fall from his skateboard and breaks his arm, the arm will likely heal nicely once it's set in a cast, and your child will quickly go about his usual activities, with some limitations for a while, but also proudly displaying his "badge of honor."
Children can also experience a more persistent or long-term type of pain. In fact, for an estimated 10 million children, pain is chronic or recurrent, which means it lasts for extended periods of time or recurs at regular or irregular intervals. (For the sake of simplicity, we will use the term "chronic pain" to describe both chronic and recurrent pain unless "recurrent" is specifically meant.) In otherwise healthy children, and in girls more often than in boys, recurring headache or migraine, abdominal pain, or limb pain can occur several times a week. The pain usually is not associated with a disease or other medical condition, but it is very real and can be debilitating. Other types of chronic pain in children can include facial pain, back pain, cancer pain, fibromyalgia, and others, which we discuss in depth in Chapter 2. (See "Pain in a Nutshell.")
Regardless of the source of or reason for chronic pain, it usually has a dramatic impact on children's lives and can cause them to miss school, sports events, family activities, and play time with friends. It has negative effects on their relationship with their parents, siblings, and friends, and can cause them to become depressed, withdrawn, fearful, and anxious.
In short, chronic pain can rob a child of her childhood and have a permanent effect on how she deals with pain as an adult.