Together is a new resource for anyone affected by pediatric cancer - patients and their parents, family members, and friends.Learn More
Pain is not a symptom that is visible like a rash or palpable like a lump. The medical team usually won’t know the patient is in pain unless the patient tells them or, in very young patients, parents have observed behavior that makes them suspect their child is in pain.
Patients and parents must be honest about pain symptoms, so the causes and appropriate treatment may be determined.
The medical team will ask questions about how pain affects the patient’s daily life – such as the ability to go to school, play with friends, and participate in favorite activities.
These questions are known as a functional assessment of pain. The team may ask questions such as
Doctors will also determine the intensity of pain using a 0-10 scale. The way patients report their pain score depends on their age.
In young patients, the FLACC scale is commonly used. It relies on parent observations.
The FACES® Pain Rating Scale-Revised uses facial expressions to help young children rate their pain on the 0-10 scale. The faces show how much something can hurt. The face on the far left (0) shows no pain. The faces show more and more pain as the number go up. A 10 scale means the pain is very intense. Patients are asked to point to the face that shows how much they hurt right now.
Older children, teens, and young adults can rate their pain using a simple 0-10 numerical score – 0 for no pain and 10 for intense pain.
In addition to a pain score, the doctor will classify the type of pain.
Physical pain is either
Doctors may also encourage patients and families to keep a diary or journal, so they can note any patterns such as times of day pain is more likely to occur or after what types of activities (or lack of activity.)
Pain may also have causes and members of the care team can explore these issues with the patient family. A chaplain or social worker may be called to assist the family.
Accurate, in-depth assessment of pain is important because it helps the medical team develop the best possible pain management plan.
Together does not endorse any branded product mentioned in this article.
Reviewed: June 2018