Infants have a right to have the best pain relief possible. With young children, it’s always a balancing act between safety and relief. A special team of pediatric Pain Management Specialists will use drug therapy in combination with non-drug therapy, while keeping family in the loop relating to the effectiveness of their infant’s pain management.
Do Infants Feel Pain?
The problem with infants is they are not able to tell us they are in pain. They feel pain and they should have their pain treated. The health care team will do everything possible to manage your infant’s pain and ensure your baby is comfortable.
Why Do Baby’s Have Pain?
There are all kinds of reasons your baby can be in pain including, but not limited to:
• Procedures like drawing blood or starting an IV
• Soreness after surgery
• Sore muscles from being bedridden
• Nerves that cause pain because of tissue damage
• Discomfort from tubes
• Pain from infection
• Skin abrasions
• Skin sores
How to Tell if an Infant is in Pain
Infants are different from all other patients because they are too young to tell you they are in pain, but their behavior does give parents and health care professional’s clues. Pain is measured through the observation of behaviors in combination with your infant’s vital signs (blood pressure, breathing rate, heart rate, etc.) to help determine if your infant is in pain.
Signs Your Infant is in Pain
When your baby is in pain, they are going to act differently than when he/she is comfortable. Infants will respond differently but there are a few clues that all babies will exhibit when in pain.
• Facial expressions such as a deep wrinkled brow, eyes squinted shut, or quivering chin.
• Crying in a high pitched tone for long periods. Premature or really sick babies who have very little energy are often silent even though they are in pain.
• Wake/sleep patterns of infants in pain will be unpredictable. Your baby will sleep less and fuss more. Sometimes infants appear to be asleep but they have just withdrawn because of the pain.
• Irritable refusing to eat, unable to sleep, squirming, kicking, etc.
• Tense muscles, pulling their legs and arms up and then stretching them out, clenched fists, rigid body, etc. Really sick babies may become floppy.
Pain Management for Your Infant
Your doctor or Pain Management Team will work hard to reduce your infant’s pain. That can involve the use of pain medicines such as anesthetic cream, injecting lidocaine to the pain area, NSAIDs, or acetaminophen. If stronger medicines are necessary your doctor may choose to give your baby opioids. These are commonly used in moderate – severe pain. These can be given orally or by IV. Sometimes your doctor will administer opioids with NSAIDs.
When your baby comes home, make sure you follow the directions of the doctor for the pain medicines. If the medicine does not seem to be working or your child develops side effects you should call your doctor immediately.