Author: Rachael Coakley, PhD

Psychological interventions’ critical role in managing chronic pediatric pain

mother child pediatric chronic pain psychological intervention
(Nomad_Soul/Shutterstock)

Chronic pain is viewed as one of the most common problems in pediatrics. Current estimates suggest that approximately one in four children experiences an episode of chronic pain lasting three months or longer. Of those who experience chronic pain, 77 percent have more than one kind of pain problem.

The issue is common, but the approach for optimally managing these challenging cases is still evolving. One thing is certain, though: Because chronic pediatric pain is so complex (involving an extensive variety of factors), diagnostic testing and treatment are both extremely costly (costing more than $19 billion per year in the U.S. alone) and time consuming, taking weeks, months or in some cases even years to complete.

While thorough diagnostic testing is critical, chronic pain and pain-related disability can wreak havoc on a child’s life and exacerbate the problem even while the investigation unfolds. Arming parents and children with adaptive coping strategies to manage chronic pain — regardless of its origin — promotes better function and reduces psychological comorbidity. Psychological interventions may help change a child’s recovery trajectory by reducing pain, stress and functional disability, and may be protective if applied early in a child’s experience of pain. …Read More

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