If you have a child with cerebral palsy (CP), chances are they have experienced physical pain at one time or another. Some children with this movement disorder experience pain after surgery or some other type of medical intervention, while others feel pain on an everyday basis. No matter what type of pain your child feels, you may feel helpless to alleviate it for them. Understanding why children with cerebral palsy experience pain and knowing what to do about it can help you help your child.
Common Causes of Pain
The type of pain a child with cerebral palsy feels largely depends on the severity of the condition. A child with a mild case of CP might feel minimal pain, while a child with a more severe type of CP, such as spastic quadriplegia, may feel extreme amounts of pain. Some of the most common causes of pain for children with cerebral palsy include:
- Joint dysfunction
- Hip subluxation
- Injuries to the nerves
Some children with cerebral palsy spend much of their time in a wheelchair, which can also lead to pain in certain parts of the body, such as the back and spine. Children with decreased range of motion and limited mobility often experience orthopedic conditions that cause pain in different parts of the body including the legs, knees, neck, and pelvis.
Types of Pain Relief
Depending on what is causing the pain and where the pain is being felt, there are different pain relief methods. Sometimes pain management can include non-invasive, drug-free methods such as range-of-motion exercises and stretching. These types of exercises can be done as part of a physical therapy regimen. Many children with cerebral palsy who experience pain will also most likely be prescribed certain medications. These common types of medicine include:
- Anticholinergics - treat uncontrolled movements such as spasms and tremors
- Anti-inflammatories - reduce inflammation in the joints and muscles
- Anti-spastics - help the muscles to relax
- Opioids - reduce severe pain
In some cases, your child may need to undergo surgery to help alleviate their pain. Certain types of orthopedic surgery can be done to lengthen the muscles in the legs to help make movement less painful. Spinal surgery is another common surgery that can help to correct the spine, thereby reducing pain.
If you feel you need help managing your child's pain, taking your child to a pain center like Regional Pain Care for an evaluation can help determine which kinds of pain management methods will work best for your child.