Pain is a signal, developed through the evolutionary process, to protect the body from further stress or injury. If prolonged, particularly in the young, it can cause distress, anxiety, and suffering. It is surprising, therefore, that prior to the 1960's, few studies or articles addressed the nature of pain in children. In fact, recent studies in the 1990's revealed that children in pain are still often under treated.
Reasons for this inadequacy may be due to current myths on pediatric pain and pain management. For example, some believe that young children do not experience pain because of neurologic immaturity. However, studies have shown that pain pathways as well as cortical and subcortical centers necessary for pain perception are developed by 30 weeks of gestation. Children not only experience pain, but also often have changes in behavior, eating and sleeping patterns, following painful medical procedures.
Pain Treatment in Pediatrics
It is generally accepted that infants and children can and do feel pain comparable to that in adults. Research into the nature, assessment, and treatment of pediatric pain has grown rapidly, and numerous drug and non-drug interventions have been developed and tested in a variety of clinical populations and settings. However, inadequate prevention and relief of pediatric pain are still widespread.
Physical and psychological responses to pain not only affect children’s health directly, but also may predispose them to develop chronic pain in adulthood. The large number of available interventions may be a source of confusion when it comes to selecting the best for each child and situation.
This section focuses on providing the most appropriate, cost effective, and evidence-based treatments, taking into account all components of the child’s pain experience
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