Can preschool-age children reliably report the intensity of their pain?

From infancy onward, mammals express pain by vocalization, body movement, and facial actions. Such expression can communicate danger to others or elicit support. But these observable actions are not always specific to pain, and they diminish as pain persists. In humans, the understanding, prevention, and relief of pain is helped by receptive and … [Read more...]

How does watching a parent in pain impact children’s own pain experiences?

Pain problems tend to run in families; if you have a parent with chronic pain you are also more likely to experience chronic pain yourself 1. While a simple explanation for this phenomenon is that parents and children share genetics that may predispose them to pain, research has shown that this does not fully explain the relationship, and thus begs … [Read more...]

How does parents’ chronic pain affect their children?

Parenting is a tough job. It’s hard enough when things are going well - imagine trying to parent while experiencing chronic pain. One mother with chronic pain, Sarah Erdreich, described her experiences with parenting her two-year-old daughter in a recent Slate article [1]. She described her worries about how her pain might affect her daughter, and … [Read more...]

#itdoesnthavetohurt: Using social media to get research evidence about children’s pain to parents

All children have pain and parents are generally unaware of how they can help. Despite decades of research aimed at better understanding and improving pain assessment and management in children [i], many children still do not receive the pain care they deserve.  Poorly managed pain in children is a serious and ongoing health problem, resulting in … [Read more...]

Do psychological therapies improve outcomes for children with chronic pain?

It is common for adolescents and children to experience chronic pain (Perquin et al., 2000). There are many negative implications associated with chronic pain such as limited social contact, lost days from school, and higher levels of anxiety and depression (Hunfeld et al., 2002; Logan, Simons, Stein, & Chastain, 2008; Walker, Guite, Duke, … [Read more...]

How do I love thee? One size does not fit all

Pain is often considered a personal experience, but is in fact rarely private. Pain occurs in and is shaped by an interpersonal context. Specifically, pain grabs the attention of the person in pain and also – through expressive behaviours - the attention of others in their environment. In turn, how the observer responds impacts upon the sufferer’s … [Read more...]

Is pain the same in boys and girls

The differences in the ways that boys and girls are expected to react to pain has long been the subject of folk wisdom and cultural idioms: Boys are expected to “tough it out” and “take it like a man”, while expressions of pain in girls are accepted and sometimes even encouraged. But are societal expectations of how boys and girls should react to … [Read more...]