Pain Management

Just because your child has cancer doesn’t mean he or she has to have pain. There are many things that your child’s health care team can do to help your child with pain. Our goal at Nationwide Children's Hospital is to make your child as comfortable as possible. It is very important for parents and health care providers to work closely together to reduce or eliminate pain.

What causes pain in cancer?

There are several different reasons why your child might experience pain. Pain may result from cancer cells affecting the body. Pain may result from procedures your child needs as part of their cancer treatment. Side effects from chemotherapy such as constipation and mouth sores also may cause your child to experience pain.

What we can do to ease pain?

Pain from cancer cells – For pain caused by the cancer cells, we can give your child pain medications to help until we can get rid of the cancer cells. There are several ways we can give your child medication for this type of pain. We can give it by mouth in the form of a liquid or a pill, by an injection into their IV, or sometimes we can use a patch which gives medication through the skin.

Pain from procedures – Unfortunately, children with cancer often need to have procedures that may cause temporary pain or discomfort. Needles are used for several different things including finger pricks, venipunctures, lumbar punctures, bone marrow aspirates and biopsies, and accessing of a subcutaneous infusion port. We have creams and sprays that we can use to help numb your child’s skin so that the needle sticks don’t hurt so badly. Many times the cream even takes all of the pain away.

Pain from treatment – Some of the medications that we give to help get rid of cancer work best if they are given as a shot in the leg, some children received medication injected under the skin. Side effects from chemotherapy may also cause pain, such as constipation and tummy pain. If your child is having pain after a treatment, please be sure to tell your health care provider.

What is my role as a parent?

Children look to their parents and caregivers for security when they are afraid. Having a parent or other loved one present may be the best psychological treatment for pain. Children feel more secure when their parents are with them.

Parents also can talk to their doctor or nurse about taking their child to a treatment room for anything that might be painful. You may find it helpful to provide distraction for your child during procedures. Music, videos, books, toys and bubbles are a few suggestions of things to use during procedures.

It is important for you and all staff to be honest with your child during painful procedures. If your child asks if a procedure will be painful, it is important to be honest. Children need to build a trusting relationship with their parents and health care providers.