How Can I Help My Child Better Communicate What Kind Of Pain He/She Has?

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Question: How Can I Help My Child Better Communicate What Kind Of Pain He/She Has?

Answer: There are at least two components to pain. There's the descriptive component, what pain is like, and then there's the quantitative component, how much pain there is. Oftentimes, we only ask how much pain there is. For example, we might use a 10-point scale and ask a child, on a scale of 0 to 10, how much does it hurt: 0, 2, 9, or 10? But that's like trying to describe a symphony orchestra in terms of its volume, without giving any explanation at all to what the perception of the pain is or what the symphony sounds like. And so the description of the pain is very very useful because it helps the clinician define the source of pain because different sources of pain have different descriptives that the, or descriptors, that the child may use. For example, is the pain burning, is it crampy, is it achy, is it sharp, is it dull? And, of course, the location of the pain is very very important in helping determine the origin of the pain. So, as a parent, one would want to help the child express their pain by both describing where it hurts, and how much it hurts, but also very importantly how it feels, what words do they use to describe the actual experience of pain.

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