By Ed Coghlan
Children suffer from pain, and generally medicine does not do a good job of treating them.
That’s the assessment Dr. Pradeep Chopra, who is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Medicine at the Brown Medical School and a nationally known pain management specialist.
It’s estimated that as many as 40% of children and adolescents complain of pain that occurs at least once weekly, and chronic pain affects at least 15%–20% of children. Just as chronic pain is more prevalent in women than men, girls report more pain than boys.
“Children deserve to be treated at least as well adults, and they generally are not,” Dr. Chopra told the National Pain Report recently. “Rather they are often blamed for their condition. It’s really a pretty sad state of affairs.”
The nation’s largest pain advocacy group has targeted pediatric pain as an issue.
“One of the major issues we see with pediatric pain is that it is undertreated and misdiagnosed,” said Paul Gileno who is Founder and President of the US Pain Foundation which will sponsor a pediatric pain camp in July and is planning a Take Control of Your Pain Event for later in the year.
When a child is complaining of pain, Dr. Chopra believes that treating physicians are not always listening the way they should to the patient.
“Oftentimes, they are told just do physical therapy and psychological treatment and you’ll get better, and then when they don’t get better they are blamed for their condition,” said Dr. Chopra
Chopra, who is Chairman of the Medical Advisory Board for the Coalition Against Pediatric Pain, says chronic pain can be so disabling that it can prevent a child from participating in normal age-appropriate activities, such as school, social events, and sports. It also can lead to isolation and depression as the child withdraws from friends and family. And, when a child suffers, the whole family suffers.
“If they don’t get better, the blame is often put on the kids which makes them sound like liars which is the worst thing you can do to a child,” said Dr. Chopra.
For doctors, Dr. Chopra’s prescription is simple: “when you see the child, and they tell you something, believe them.”
There are many, many sources of pain for children including cancer pain, complex regional pain syndrome, fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome, juvenile arthritis and mitochondrial disease just to name a few.
“They are deserving of better treatment than they get,” said Chopra. “And it’s getting worse.”
The US Pain Foundation is recruiting more of what they call “pediatric pain warriors” who can share their stories to better educate young people, their parent and their doctors about the issue of pediatric pain.
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