Pain Control After Your Child's Surgery

As a parent, you hate to see your kids hurting, but unfortunately, most children experience pain after surgery. Not only are there physical causes for pain — the surgery itself — but pain can also be affected by your child's mental and emotional frame of mind.

Because children, especially young ones, can't always verbalize what they're feeling, it may be very challenging to determine the level of pain your child is experiencing. Your child's pain management team — your child's surgeon, anesthesiologist and nurses — generally know the usual discomfort for a given operation and can prescribe medication for it, but you, as a parent, know your child best. The team will work closely with you to manage your child's pain.

What kind of pain medication will my child be given?

Your child may receive a variety of pain medications. Her physician will order the specific medication(s) she thinks will be most effective, based on the type of surgery your child had, his age and development, and any previous experience he's had with surgery and pain medications. For instance, if your child has moderate to severe pain, he'll most likely receive narcotics during and after surgery. If your child is in the intensive care unit after surgery, he may also receive sedatives along with analgesics. Sedatives can decrease anxiety, induce sleep, and eliminate the memory of unpleasant events.

Pain medications can also be given in a number of forms; how your child gets them will depend on his age, his condition and the type of medication he's getting:

  • Pills to be swallowed
  • Liquids to be swallowed
  • Intravenous medications, delivered through a needle directly into a vein
  • Suppositories, especially if your child has nausea or vomiting

Learn more about the following types of pain control:

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