Psychological Treatments and Parenting With Chronic Pain

Pediatric Chronic Pain Doctor St. CloudAs we mentioned in Monday’s post, treating pediatric chronic pain is a comprehensive process. Today, we take a look at the psychological side of chronic pain in children.

Pain is extremely complex when it becomes chronic. Oftentimes it takes multiple strategies to modify the impact of pain. When it hurts, it’s harder for your body to function normally, and if the body does not have the ability to fully cooperate, pain and function may decrease. It may be a constant challenge to control pain.

Psychological challenges are enormous, as the brain wants to focus on the pain signals and the patient wants the brain to ignore them. Furthermore, the centers for pain in the brain and centers for anxiety and depression are next to each other, and sometimes their signals can interact. Preventing this short circuit and diminishing the transmission of pain signals is a constant cognitive and physical activity that can be extremely fatiguing. In complex cases of chronic pain, often it takes every type of intervention to combat the pain signals from physical activity, to complementary medicine, to natural remedies and then traditional medications, interventions and psychological treatments. The battle is not easy on either the patient or the parent watching the struggles.

That’s where a pediatric pain psychologists can be extremely helpful in developing treatment strategies that help in managing the interactions of pain and stress in the brain. They can help the patient understand why they’re experiencing pain and how to deal with pain when it rears its ugly head. By better understanding pain, we can help prevent some common side effects, like anxiety and depression during a crucial time of childhood development.

Parenting Kids With Pain – My Story

As a parent of a child with chronic pain, the most important role is to encourage wellness and a normal lifestyle. Never encourage the sick role of the child and never reward pain behavior. It should never be better to be at home and be rewarded for having pain while being excused from all other normal activity. Watching a child struggle with pain is not a fun experience, but seeing them later conquer life independently is amazing. It is what is often reffered to as “tough love”. It may make you cry a little at times, but your role is to be the coach and get them back out there in life.

From my own experience, dealing with a child with significant chronic pain is extremely challenging. Trying to make the right decisions is not easy. Often, every nontraditional method to manage pain may be an option. Having the correct diagnosis and treatment often is also a challenge. Furthermore, with all challenging cases, 90 percent of the doctors and therapists do a good job. Unfortunately, on complex cases, you may need to find those 10 percent of doctors who are far superior to the others and this isn’t an easy task. As a physician, it is difficult when you can see the problem, but are not in the position to change the situation. The one truth is always be supportive and guide the person in the best direction possible. Empathy does go a long ways, but they do not need your sympathy.

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Thomas Cohn, MD

Interventional pain doctor helping Minnesotans manage back, neck, foot, and other pain. Board-certified in physical medicine and rehabilitation with additional board-certification in pain management from the American Board of Anesthesiology (ABA), the American Board of Interventional Pain Physicians (ABIPP) and the American Board of Pain Medicine (ABPM).

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