Childhood Pain


  1. What is infantile pain?
  2. Prognosis
  3. Symptoms of pediatric pain
  4. Medical tests
  5. Causes of childhood pain
  6. Treatments for pediatric pain

What is pediatric pain?

Until very recently, it was thought that children did not have pain because of the immaturity of their nervous system and other organs, or at least that they had no memory of the unpleasant events they experienced. It has been proven time and time again that children do have real pain (even if they are immature).

The problem with pediatric pain is that the child has no reference for the pain, and they usually do not know how to clearly express the symptoms. This is why it is so important that parents can help the specialist understand the child’s symptoms.

Prognosis of the disease

Pediatric pain is very broad and depending on the specific pain the prognosis is variable.

Symptoms of childhood pain

Depending on the condition, the child may show it in very different ways. In the case of chronic childhood pain, the child stops eating and sleeping well, does not socialize properly, gives up sports and may have long periods of school absenteeism, without medical tests finding any cause for this discomfort.

Medical tests for childhood pain

Visual analog scales can be used in children six years of age and older, similar to those used in adults. The Spafford graphic scale, consisting of six faces with different expressions, is internationally validated in pediatrics and instructions for its use are available in many languages.

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Depending on the location of the pain, the pediatrician can perform these diagnostic tests:

  • Abdominal pain tests: careful anamnesis and physical examination, and if necessary some complementary explorations.
  • Musculoskeletal pain tests: patient history and physical examination. In addition, in cases of fractures, diagnostic imaging tests such as radiography, computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) will be necessary.
  • Chest pain tests: exhaustive physical examination and, if necessary, complementary tests (electrocardiogram, blood tests or X-rays).

Pain management in pediatrics is complex.

What are the causes of pediatric pain?

The causes of pediatric pain can be multiple. Some causes of common pediatric pain a:

  • Abdominal pain: is often due, in many cases, to respiratory tract infections.
  • Musculoskeletal pain: mostly due to trauma (falls, blows, etc.) or tumors (much less frequent).
  • Chest pain: it is usually intense and often idiopathic or psychogenic.

It may also be due to surgery. A post-operative child will be in pain virtually all the time, and it must be treated.

Treatments for pediatric pain

The treatment of pain in pediatrics is complex and the aim is to achieve comfort for the child with the least possible risk. By treating this, whether we want to or not, we achieve that the family, mainly the parents, are calm, rest and, therefore, better accompany their child.

The approach to chronic pain in children is multidisciplinary: with physiotherapy, psychological and psychiatric therapy. Sometimes different types of medication are used (analgesics, anti-inflammatory drugs, antidepressants and antiepileptics).