Is Your Child in Pain?

Chronic pain is better understood in adults than children

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) It's never easy to see a child in pain. It's even harder when a child has to undergo an operation – and then feels the resulting pain for weeks or months.

A new study says that much of this suffering is unecessary.

Anesthesiologists from the University of California – Irvine who specialize in pediatric care took a first look at post-operative chronic pain in children. Their findings suggest that possibly half a million children suffer long after their surgery.

"If your child is in pain, see a doctor."

Dr. Zeev Kain's research career focuses on alleviating children's pain from surgery. He says that chronic pain is more studied and better understood in adults than children. That's why many medical professionals don't have a full understanding of how to work with parents to care for chronic pain, Dr. Kain said.

This month, he published the first-ever study of pain in children post-operation. The sample size was small. Out of 113 children who underwent various surgeries, 13 percent reported feeling pain that lasted for months.

While this was a preliminary study, Kain looked at the wider implications. Four million children go into surgery each year. If 13 percent of those children experience chronic pain, that means half a million kids might be suffering.

Kain believes that pain should be managed within 48 hours for surgery. That's the period that has been shown to minimize pain for adults. In addition, parents must be prepared to deal with their child's pain at home, and know how to get treatment.

The study is being called a first step towards “definitive solutions” to alleviate childrens' pain. It was published in the Journal of Pediatric Surgery.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
October 29, 2011
Last Updated:
November 1, 2011