Managing Your Child’s Pain

At Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital at NYU Langone, we use an integrated, child- and family-centered approach to pain management that includes the use of pain relieving medicines as well as mind–body coping techniques and strategies.

Doctor and Pediatric Patient

We understand that pain affects your child’s wellbeing—and yours as well. It can also interfere with recovery and affect your child emotionally. Fear of discomfort can cause a child to feel more pain during a procedure. Our goal at Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital is to make sure your child feels as comfortable as possible.

Parents and siblings can also experience stress and anxiety related to a child’s treatment—and this anxiety may affect the child as well. For this reason, we provide emotional support for the entire family. Our services are offered in part through the Sala Institute for Child and Family Centered Care.

Pain in Children

In the hospital, children often feel some pain and discomfort related to procedures such as injections, intravenous (IV) placement, and the drawing of blood. The calming presence of a parent and age-appropriate distraction, along with numbing creams and other pain relief techniques, can help lessen any pain and anxiety your child experiences during these procedures.

Some children may have acute pain after surgery due to traumatic injuries or related to a flare-up from a chronic condition, such as sickle cell anemia, Crohn’s disease, or cancer. Pain after surgery is best managed when treatment begins immediately and when your child gets an adequate amount of rest.

Pain Relieving Medications

We manage your child’s discomfort using medications and interventional procedures. Many different types of pain relieving medicines are safe to use in children. We prescribe these at doses appropriate for children, when needed. In certain situations, we also use regional anesthesia, such as nerve blocks and spinal and epidural injections, to target specific areas of pain.

We work with you and your child to determine pain and comfort levels. This may include the use of both around-the-clock and as-needed medications. Patient-controlled anesthesia, also known as PCA, is available for some older children and teenagers. This involves the use of a programmable machine that allows children to receive pain relieving medication, when they need it, up to a prescribed, safe level.

Additional Support for Pain Management

Pain medications are not the only way to manage pain. It is important to use nonmedical approaches, such as supportive therapies and programs, that help alleviate any pain your child is experiencing.

Child life specialists and creative arts therapists use music, art, relaxation, and distraction as a way to help your child manage pain. Meditation and other mind–body practices that can minimize pain are taught by our integrative health team. For children who need extra support, our child psychiatrists are available to help them cope with anxiety and depression, which can impact how the child experiences pain.

These approaches, in combination with medications, can help your child feel more comfortable.

Pain Management Consultations for Your Child

If you believe your child needs help with pain management, talk to his or her doctor or nurse. A consultation with the pediatric pain management team might be recommended if typical approaches are not helping.