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Child & Teen Chronic Pain

Is Your Child Struggling With Persistent, Chronic Pain?

Does your child or teen suffer as a result of chronic pain? Is he or she often unable to attend school or social activities due to painful symptoms? Does your child seem stressed or even hopeless, worried that the pain will never go away? Perhaps he or she is frustrated that no one understands his or her condition, and has difficulty thinking about anything outside the experience of being in pain. Do you worry that your child’s doctors may be missing something or wish that pain treatment plans could be more effective? It may be that you feel hopeless and helpless in the face of your child’s pain, unable to alleviate symptoms or even, in many cases, establish a cause. Do you worry that your child might be missing certain skills he or she needs to cope with chronic pain? Did you know there are specific coping skills that your child can learn to diminish and in some cases dissolve pain symptoms?

It might be that you have met with a whole host of medical professionals, but your child is experiencing little or no progress. He or she may be feeling lonely, confused and/or vulnerable as a result of chronic pain. The distraction caused by your child’s pain symptoms may mean that he or she is falling behind at school or struggling socially. You may notice extreme fluctuations in your child’s mood or demeanor, or sense that he or she is no longer enjoying activities that were once loved. Do you wish there was a way to help your child successfully manage chronic pain so that it no longer interferes with his or her life?

Chronic Pain Is A Significant Problem In The Pediatric Population

It is estimated that 15-20 percent of children suffer with chronic pain in a significant way, while at least 40 percent of school children and adolescents complain of pain at least once a week. Seeing your child in pain can leave parents, caregivers and other family members feeling helpless and overwhelmed. Chronic pain not only affects a child physically, but also his or her emotional well-being. Children with chronic pain are at higher risk for anxiety, depression and social difficulties. Chronic pain in children can impact the ability to learn at school and/or socialize, which makes it critical for children to gain the tools needed to cope with pain as early as possible.

Chronic pain is an extremely complex medical condition, especially because it is tremendously difficult to measure and/or observe pain in another person. Whether pain is caused by a chronic illness, surgery, injury or even something unknown, the level of pain experienced may vary between individuals and is impossible to discern entirely. Therefore, it is important to treat each case of chronic pain as distinct from every other, and to base pain management strategies on that person’s unique perception and experience of pain, in order to help manage and decrease his or her pain. Through reducing pain, children and adolescents can significantly enhance their functioning and life satisfaction. With the help of an experienced pain management therapist, your kid can get back to being a kid.   

Chronic Pain Therapy Can Provide Your Child With Support, Skills And A New Path Forward

Perhaps surprisingly, reacting and adapting to chronic pain in the same fashion you would respond to acute pain is ineffective and can actually increase pain symptoms. Therefore, when pain turns chronic, it is vital to respond carefully. Chronic pain therapy can help parents, caregivers and loved ones learn how to respond to a child suffering from chronic pain effectively. As a therapist specializing in pediatric pain management, my goal is to teach your child strategies that can change the perception and experience of pain. With mindfulness tools and techniques, we can actually turn down the volume and intensity of pain and, in some conditions, turn it off completely. No matter the diagnosis, pain diminished significantly. Your child or teen can learn how to function without pain preventing him or her from doing the things he or she wants to do in their life. And, many children and adolescents with whom I have worked have had their pain conditions resolve entirely. Being a family therapist and working with the pediatric population, I know how hard it can be to see your child suffer, and the importance of helping parents learn tools to support their kids. Often, parents will want to do anything to help their suffering child. I help parents feel less helpless and give them tools when necessary to help decrease the pain their child is experiencing.

It’s important to note that the goal of chronic pain therapy is to enable your child to effectively manage pain. In other words, your child will learn to control her or her pain instead of the pain controlling your child. Having a team approach when treating pain is very important. With your permission, I will collaborate with your child’s pediatrician, pain specialists and other medical providers involved in your child’s care. I will also work with your child’s teacher and/or school to help make a plan for your child to succeed at school while managing pain symptoms.

In the private, comfortable environment of chronic pain therapy sessions, your child or teen can learn methods to distract from or change their perception of pain. These include breathing techniques, guided imagery, muscle relaxation, mindfulness and self-hypnosis techniques. Your child can also learn how to manage anxiety and stress, which can exacerbate existing pain conditions. Using cognitive behavioral techniques and problem-solving strategies, and solution-focused strategies your child can learn to manage challenging days and how to resume normal functioning, including attending school, play, social and family activities. I’ll focus on helping your child connect with peers, increase self-esteem and overcome “perfectionism.” I’ll also help you and your child function as part of your medical team, emphasizing that your child is the most important and influential member when it comes to managing his or her pain. Through feeling hopeful and empowered, your child can begin to take control of his or her pain, overcome challenges and find a new path forward.

Common chronic pediatric pain conditions that I have expertise working with…

  • Headaches & migraines
  • Amplified Pain Syndrome
  • Back pain
  • Shoulder pain
  • Abdominal pain
  • Pain from orthopedic injury and/or surgery.
  • Sports injuries
  • Joint pain
  • Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS)
  • Chest pain
  • Sickle cell
  • Nerve (neuropathic pain)
  • Juvenile arthritis and other rheumatoid disorders 
  • Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS)
  • Pseudo-seizures
  • Concussion
  • Conversion Disorder
  • Medical anxiety or anxiety related to a medical condition
  • Procedure pain (needles don’t have to hurt!)
  • Cancer (pain from cancer, treatments and consequences of treatments)
  • Pre-surgery anxiety and pain management techniques

You still may have questions and concerns about chronic pain counseling for children…

I’m afraid/ my child is afraid you’re going to think the pain is all in my child’s head

Some kids say “no” to therapy because they think the therapist will believe they’re exaggerating or imagining their pain. However, I will never think your child’s pain is all in their head or tell him or her that it is “all in the head.” No matter the cause, pain is a very real and often upsetting experience. As a therapist with extensive pain management experience, I can recognize and understand what your child is going through with chronic pain. I strongly believe in the mind-body connection and I’ll help your child learn to use his or her mind to help control and diminish pain. Just as medication and physical therapy can help treat pain, so, too, can using mindfulness techniques and other complimentary stress-reducing strategies.

We have seen so many doctors and medical professionals. How can therapy possibly help with pain?

Therapy differs from other medical treatments in that it is a confidential space for you and your child to share your chronic pain experience, with the intention of using the power of the mind to reduce your child’s experience of chronic pain. While some doctors may focus on finding the cause of your child’s pain, with me your child can learn how to cope with and manage pain so that he or she can return to leading a fulfilling, happy life. Additionally, with your permission, I’ll collaborate with your medical team to figure out the most effective strategies to combat chronic pain. Often, teens and children are surprised at the extent that therapy helps their symptoms and how much they enjoy attending therapy sessions.

I’m not sure that we have time for therapy.

I understand that it’s difficult for some people to make time for therapy, especially for high-performing teenagers with a packed schedule. However, by attending therapy and learning how to reduce pain, your child will be able to complete tasks more easily and quickly. We’ll work on reducing stress, allowing your family more time to participate in enjoyable activities, as well as school and other obligations.

Your Child Can Learn To Manage Pediatric Chronic Pain

If you’re ready to begin managing your child or teen’s chronic pain, I can help. Call 972-489-2658 today for a free 15-minute phone consultation. I can answer any questions you have. We can also set up an initial meeting where you’ll be able to relax in a comfortable environment and better understand the benefits of working with a pain management therapist.