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Breaking the Cycle of Pain: Addressing Mismanaged Pain in Children

Pain is a normal and inevitable part of life. For children, the experience of pain can be particularly distressing and overwhelming, as they may not have the cognitive or emotional maturity to understand and cope with it. Despite the increasing awareness of the managing pain in children, it remains an underdiagnosed and undertreated problem, especially in vulnerable populations, such as those with chronic or life-limiting conditions or those who have undergone surgery or invasive procedures. This blog will explore the challenges and consequences of neglected, unaddressed, and mismanaged pain in children. We will also discuss the role of healthcare providers, parents, and other caregivers in ensuring that children receive appropriate and effective pain relief. 


The Importance of Pain Management in Children


Pain management in children is an essential aspect of pediatric care. Children are not just small adults; their unique developmental and physiological differences require a different approach to pain management. Effective pain management in children is necessary to prevent the development of chronic infant pain, improve the child's quality of life, and prevent the child from developing a fear of medical procedures or treatments.


Causes Of Unaddressed Pain


  • Inadequate Pain Assessment in Children - One of the primary causes of neglected, unaddressed, and mismanaged pain in children is inadequate pain assessment. Pain assessment in children is challenging, as children are often unable to verbalize their discomfort and may not have the same pain thresholds as adults. Furthermore, the pain assessment tools used for adults may not be accurate for children, as they may not consider the child's developmental stage and cognitive abilities.
  • Misconceptions about Pain in Children - Another significant cause of neglected, unaddressed, and mismanaged pain in children is the misconceptions surrounding pain in children. For example, many healthcare professionals and caregivers believe infants and young children cannot feel or remember the pain, which is invalid. Furthermore, some believe giving pain medication to children is harmful, which is also inaccurate. These misconceptions can lead to inadequate pain management, and children can be subjected to unnecessary suffering.
  • Lack of Appropriate Pain Management Strategies - The lack of appropriate pain management strategies for children is another significant cause of neglected, unaddressed, and mismanaged pain. Children may receive pain medication inappropriate for their age, developmental stage, or condition or may not receive enough pain medication to manage their pain adequately. In addition, in some cases, healthcare professionals may not have access to the necessary pain management resources or may not have been trained to use pain management strategies for children.


Why Pain in Children is Often Neglected, Unaddressed, and Mismanaged?


  • Lack of Awareness and Understanding of Pediatric Pain: - One of the main reasons why pain in children is often neglected, unaddressed, and mismanaged is due to a lack of understanding of pediatric pain. infant pain is a subjective experience, and it can be difficult for healthcare providers to assess and diagnose pediatric pain accurately. This is because children cannot always describe their pain and may have different pain thresholds and responses compared to adults. As a result, many healthcare providers may not recognize the extent or severity of a child's pain and may not take appropriate action to manage it.
  • Misperceptions About Children and Pain: - Another reason pain in children is often neglected, unaddressed, and mismanaged is misperceptions about children and pain. For example, there is a widespread belief that children are resilient, can tolerate more pain than adults, and recover more quickly from injuries and illnesses. This misperception can lead to a lack of action by healthcare providers to manage a child's pain, as they may not recognize the extent or severity of the child's pain. Additionally, some healthcare providers may believe that children are too young to experience chronic pain, but chronic pain can affect children just as it affects adults.
  • Lack of Pediatric Pain Management Guidelines: - A lack of pediatric pain management guidelines is another reason why pain in children is often neglected, unaddressed, and mismanaged. Pediatric pain management is a complex and challenging field, and there is a need for evidence-based guidelines to help healthcare providers diagnose and treat pain in children. There are few guidelines available to healthcare providers, and they may not always be applicable or appropriate for a child's specific needs. As a result, many healthcare providers may not have the tools and resources to diagnose and treat pain in children effectively.
  • Fear of Overmedication: - Finally, the fear of overmedication is another reason for neglecting and mismanaging pain in children. There is a growing concern about the overuse of pain medications in children, particularly opioids, and the potential for addiction and other side effects. This fear can lead to a lack of action for healthcare providers to manage a child's pain, as they may not want to prescribe pain medications for fear of causing harm. Additionally, some healthcare providers may not have the necessary training or expertise to prescribe pain medications for children safely and effectively.


Options for Pain Relief and Treatment


Pain relief and pain treatment options for children are similar to those for adults. Still, they may need to be adjusted to consider the child's age, developmental stage, and physiological differences. Pain relief options for children may include non-medication methods, such as comforting touch, distraction techniques, and calming environments, as well as medication methods, such as over-the-counter pain relievers and prescription pain medications.


  • Non-Medication Methods of Pain Relief - Comforting touches, such as hugs, hand-holding, and cuddling, can help reduce pain in children. Distraction techniques, such as playing games, watching videos, or listening to music, can help redirect the child's focus away from the pain. Creating a calming environment, such as a quiet and relaxing space, can help reduce stress and anxiety, and hence provide pain relief.
  • Medication Methods of Pain Relief - Over-the-counter pain relievers, such as ibuprofen, can provide effective pain relief for mild to moderate pain in children. Prescription pain medications, such as opioids, can provide more significant pain relief for severe pain but come with more critical risks, such as side effects. Therefore, these should not be used with a doctor's prescription.




The neglect, mismanagement, and unaddressed pain in children can have severe and long-lasting consequences. It's vital for healthcare providers, parents, and caregivers to understand the importance of proper pain management and to provide children with adequate pain relief. Using a combination of pain medication, pain treatment, and pain management strategies, we can help children recover from their pain and reduce the risk of physical, emotional, and social complications. It's crucial to prioritize children's pain management, as their well-being and future health depend on it. Parents can reach out to a reputed doctor for severe conditions and seek help for young ones.

Medanta Medical Team
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