Pain Management

Managing Pain

Children in the hospital may experience pain from surgery, certain procedures or illnesses, and both families and patients may worry about how this pain will be treated. Our goal is to prevent or minimize pain as much as possible. We believe that pain is very individual – pain is whatever the person experiencing it says it is – so we trust your child is in pain when he or she says so.

What Parents Should Know

  • Fussiness, restlessness, poor feeding, poor sleep and decreased play may be signs that your child is in pain.
  • Unrelieved pain can be harmful, and result in a longer hospital stay. Nurses will ask your child to rate his or her pain on a 0 to 10 scale, with 0 meaning no pain and 10 the worst pain imaginable. Nurses may use a pain-rating scale called FACES, and ask your child to point to the drawing of a face that best shows his or her pain. There are other pain scales as well.
  • Medicines to treat your child’s pain may be given through an intravenous catheter, an epidural catheter, or orally as a tablet or liquid. You can help reduce pain by holding or rocking your child, distracting him with a favorite activity such as coloring, playing music or games, or by providing a comfort item from home.
  • The Pediatric Pain Service at Hopkins Children’s is available for complex cases, and is staffed by pediatric nurse practitioners and pediatric anesthesiologists. They are responsible for the pain management of patients receiving epidural infusions and patient controlled analgesia (PCA). Our physicians are trained to manage pain safely in children. 

How Parents Can Help

As parents, you know your child best. To help us care for your child:

  • Tell us if you think your child is hurting.
  • Tell us if your child has a special name for pain, such as “owie.”
  • Tell us what works best to comfort your child.
  • Ask for pain medicines, if ordered, when the pain begins because it is much harder to treat pain that is more severe.
  • Let us know if you think your child’s pain is not being controlled.