Treating chronic pain in children presents difficult challenges

Cover Story: A New Approach

Marc LaVoie
January 17, 2018 - 5:15 am

Some of the people most at risk in the opioid epidemic are those who suffer from chronic pain.

At the rheumatology department and amplified pain clinic at Children's Mercy Hospital, the doctors never prescribe opioid pain killers. When pain strikes at an early age, it is especially important to focus on the root causes of pain.

Chronic pain commonly takes a toll on a young person's mental state, said Dr. Emily Fox.

"A lot of the time we recommend kids go to counseling, just because when they've been in chronic pain for so long, that changes the mind, changes how they feel about themselves," Fox said.

Kids who suffer from amplified pain have an abnormally active pain reflex. The best medicine for amplified pain is exercise, about 45 minutes of active movement per day.

"It is easier to tackle chronic pain at a much younger age than, let's say, someone that is an adult, who has had these symptoms for a long period of time," Fox said.

Doctors at Children's Mercy focus on pain treatment only after they determine that other problems, like rheumatoid arthritis, are controlled with other therapies.

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