Our multidisciplinary Chronic Pain Clinic is a specialized service for the assessment and treatment of children and adolescents with chronic pain. Our team is made up of an experienced team of physicians, psychologists, advanced practice nurses, physical therapists and a nurse. We provide evidence-based treatments and therapies with family-centered.
We alleviate pain for a variety of conditions, from acute pain as a result of surgery and trauma to chronic pain from cancer-related issues.
Understanding pain management
We share in-depth educational materials about all aspects of pain management with patients and families before therapy is initiated. All materials are created using simple language and incorporating art and games, so even young children can read, enjoy and understand them.
What to expect during your visit
The length of the clinic appointment will depend on whether you are a new patient scheduled for an initial appointment or coming in for a follow-up appointment. The length may also vary depending on the complexity of your child’s pain. Expect an initial appointment to last at least 2 hours. Follow-up appointments with the nurse practitioner are scheduled for 30 minutes. Follow-up appointments with the psychologist are scheduled for 60 minutes. Follow-up appointments with the physical therapist are scheduled for 60 minutes. We do our best to stay on time so you and others won’t have to wait too long.
At your initial clinic appointment, you will meet with our chronic pain team including the Physician, Psychologist, Physical Therapist, and Nurse Practitioner. Because Phoenix Children's Hospital is a teaching hospital, there may be other health-care professionals present during the appointment.
The providers in the Chronic Pain Clinic believe that chronic pain is best managed by addressing the pain from every angle. The physician will physically examine your child and may offer medications. The psychologist helps your child use his or her mind to manage the pain and will help the entire family learn how to help the child live in spite of the pain. The physical therapist will work on strengthening and/or stretching your child’s tissues (muscles, bones, connective ligaments) and teach your child good body mechanics. The appointment with the Chronic Pain Clinic team will involve an assessment of your child’s pain and discussion on how it impacts life on a daily basis.
For initial appointments, we will ask both the patient and the parent to describe the impact of the pain. Some of the topics we will talk about may include:
- The history of the pain problem.
- How the pain is affecting sleep, mood, school, sports/hobbies and seeing friends and family.
- What you and your child are currently doing to manage the pain.
- What medications you may be taking or may have taken.
- What physical exercises your child is doing.
- What coping strategies are helpful or unhelpful.
- Other medical information e.g. other conditions, allergies.
The physician and physiotherapist will also perform a physical examination.
After your child has seen each of the providers, the team meets to discuss your child’s care and will provide you with a packet of information for you to take home that will include a summary and treatment recommendations of each of the providers you saw that day. If any referrals or follow-up appointments are needed, the clinic coordinator will be available by phone to assist you with scheduling appointments.
Please remember that, by the very nature of chronic pain, we understand that your child and you have been dealing with the pain and everything related to it for a long time. Unfortunately, however, there is nothing “quick and easy” about the treatment of chronic pain. Treatment usually takes a long time (maybe even longer than you’ve had the pain already!) and a lot of hard work, but we think you’re worth it!
What not to expect during your visit
Because we are not a diagnostic clinic, our providers will not be doing any additional medical testing to identify the pain or to search for the cause. Additionally, except in the rarest of circumstances, we do not prescribe opioid (narcotic) pain relievers (e.g., morphine, oxycodone, hydromorphone, etc.) as these medications can cause many unwanted difficulties.
Our goals for you
While it may seem strange at first, our primary goal for your child is not pain relief; it is improving his/her level of function to the point that he/she is able to live a quality and valued life in spite of his/her pain. You will very likely notice that your child is able to do more and function better long before his or her pain is relieved. It is also possible that your child’s pain will likely never go away completely, but we do expect that he/she will be able to live a fulfilling life anyway.