Few sounds are more upsetting to hear than a child crying in pain. Knowing that a child is suffering can make parents and caregivers feel helpless. Recent studies show that if pain isn't treated – or isn't treated enough – it can affect a child for years to come.
Seattle Children's has been a leader in treating pain in babies, children and teens since our program began in 1985. We use a range of evidence-based methods. These include medicines and sometimes procedures. For example, we can use a tube to send numbing medicine to the nerve that carries signals from a painful site to the brain (peripheral nerve continuous infusion). We also teach children strategies they can use to change their pain experience by turning it down or turning it off. Complementary and integrative methods, such as acupuncture, may be used, too.
Our team is made up of specialists in caring for children's pain – anesthesiologists, nurses, psychologists and physical and occupational therapists. Because many conditions may cause pain, we work with experts from nearly all of Seattle Children's programs. We also partner with you, your child and your child's whole healthcare team to design a treatment plan that meets your child's and family's needs. The approaches we recommend for your child are based on evidence about what works. As a result of our dedication to reducing pain and unnecessary suffering in children, we are among only a handful of organizations that are a ChildKind International Certified Hospital.
Conditions We Treat
We care for babies, children and teens who have a wide range of conditions, including:
- Pain after surgery, such as abdominal, heart, orthopedic, otolaryngologic, urological and thoracic surgery; neurosurgery; plastic surgery; reconstructive procedures; and solid organ transplants
- Pain from cancer or cancer treatment, including bone marrow transplant
- Recurrent pain from conditions such as sickle cell disease
- Pain in the bones, joints or muscles from conditions such as arthritis and lupus
- Back pain
- Fibromyalgia and other central sensitization syndromes
- Complex regional pain syndrome
- Headaches, including migraines and chronic daily headaches
- Abdominal pain – chronic pain or recurrent pain, abdominal pain in girls, abdominal pain in boys
- Pain from changes in the nervous system, including from an injury or surgery, stiff and rigid muscles (spasticity), and dysautonomia
- Pain in children who are getting palliative care or end-of-life care
- Physical dependence in children who have been receiving certain pain medicines for a long time and need to safely and slowly stop taking them