Ask Us Answers- Managing Pain/Social Support
Q. I have a 10 year old with chronic back pain. She is too young for surgery and the pain is daily, whether she is active or not. Have you dealt with this type of condition before and what exercises would you recommend or not recommend. Also, wondering how to help her not feel so defeated/upset/alone when her friends have no idea what she is going through. Do you have a chat for younger kids? Thank you.
A. In the Comfort Ability Program we see kids with all types of pain, and we know that managing pain can be difficult when there's no quick fix in sight. Comfort Ability skills such as deep breathing, guided imagery and mindfulness can help to reduce pain by dimming or dialing back nervous system activity. These skills are helpful no mater what the underlying cause of the pain may be. Similarly, helpful changes to activities or routines can improve sleep, boost mood, and help kids to do more even when there is ongoing pain. To understand how these skills work, check our new our article: How Mind-body Skills Can Reduce Pain and Improve Comfort: https://kids.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/frym.2021.682687.
For dealing with friends, it's helpful to role play or practice how your daughter wants to talk about her pain. To help you along, our peer advisory board put together some great tips on how to respond to tough questions and help friends understand the situation. You can find their suggestions here. Finally, for social support, The Comfort Ability Program hosts free health chats for kids ages 10-17, so your daughter could definitely join! CAP chats are a safe space for kids who are dealing with ongoing pain to connect so they don't feel alone. Chats are always monitored by a pediatric psychologist and a peer mentor and kids learn helpful tips on managing pain in a warm and welcoming space. You can register for chats even if you haven't done the Comfort Ability Workshop. Click here to register for an upcoming chat!
Of course, for specific questions about your child's care, it's always best to talk to your child's treatment team because they know your child best!