When a child is in pain, a parent’s instinct is to comfort and protect. This may be hard if your child just had surgery, is going through a treatment, or is having anxiety. Pain management is also a challenge when your child has a disability that makes it hard to communicate.
Making a difference for Simon's family
While medicine can often help comfort and soothe your child, there are other ways to relieve pain and help your child relax. These pain management techniques have made a difference for 13-year-old Simon and his family.
Born with rare genetic disorders Trisomy 11q and Monosomy 20p, Simon is legally deaf and blind, which makes it difficult to communicate with and establish a connection with him. It also makes it hard to manage his chronic pain.
When his mother, Valorie, was asked to join a pain management and relaxation book committee at Primary Children’s Hospital, she was excited about the opportunity.
"Pain management is such an important subject in our family. The group clearly knew how important it was to take on this task and to do it right, keeping children and parents in mind throughout the process," Valorie says. "The collaboration was a joy to watch in action. As a parent, I felt like a valued part of the team and knew my input was not only heard, but sincerely considered."
Creating the right pain management education
Intermountain Healthcare's education team recently published two new pain management and relaxation books, which were developed with help from parents, child life specialists, nurses, doctors, and behavioral health specialists at Primary Children's Hospital. The books bring together five different Let's Talk About education handouts that explain ways to manage pain and relieve anxiety, including:
- Breathing techniques
- Progressive muscle relaxation
In her role on the book committee, Valorie took the opportunity to advocate for a new patient education handout titled Pain Management for Special-Needs Children, which is now included in the pain management book.
"I am most excited to have several unique methods to help manage Simon's pain without relying solely on medication. This resource helps me feel like I have tools to help bring him comfort when he is in pain," she says. "I am absolutely thrilled that Primary Children's Hospital included a document for children with special needs and took this population into consideration when creating these resources."
Giving families more pain management and relaxation resources
The new pain management book gives Valorie and her husband additional tools to help Simon, especially when he's frustrated and thinks they don't understand his pain.
"Simon experiences chronic pain, and his medications don't always bring him relief. Medications also come with side effects that we would rather avoid when possible. As parents, we often feel defeated when we can't help him,” Valorie says. “We can now use the methods in the pain management book, so he at least knows that we know he hurts — and we are doing something to help him."
Simon is just one of the many children who deal with pain and anxiety during treatments and at home. Jody Osteyee, a clinical nurse specialist at Primary Children's Hospital and head of the book committee, says the new pain management and relaxation books benefit both patients and community members.
"These pain management and relaxation strategies describe life skills useful at home, school, and in the hospital during times of stress and pain. They also support Intermountain Healthcare’s efforts to reduce the use of opioids for pain," she says. "This information is useful for adults and children. I hope you take some time to look at them and consider how you can use them for yourself and in your work."