Chronic Pain Program

At Connecticut Children’s Medical Center, expert medical care and comfort go hand-in-hand. Our pain specialists integrate traditional medicine with other complementary therapies to best manage children’s acute or chronic pain in collaboration with the multispecialty team caring for your child during a hospital stay.

Pain usually serves as a natural warning that something is wrong with the body, but when it lasts a long time, pain no longer serves as a valuable alert. Instead, it can interfere with everyday activities and reduce the quality of your child’s life. Pain that causes children to stop moving, miss school, lose sleep, and withdraw from friends and social activities can lead to significant physical, emotional and social distress.

At Connecticut Children’s, chronic pain is treated by a multidisciplinary team of pediatricians, psychologists, physical or occupational therapists, and nurses who develop a treatment plan to regain movement and function. Rebuilding strength and range-of-motion will eventually reduce the hypersensitivity of the nerves that cause chronic pain. Generally, a combination of physical, behavioral and drug therapies are used to treat chronic pain.

Occupational and Physical Therapy

While occupational therapy (OT) and physical therapy (PT) focus on different areas of the body, both can help children move comfortably again and regain their quality of life. When recovering from surgery or managing chronic pain, OT/PT specialists may prescribe specific exercises to restore strength, increase range of motion and improve motor function. Occupational therapists also encourage movement and use touch to desensitize the hypersensitive nerves that cause chronic pain. Biofeedback, a technique that teaches muscle relaxation to reduce pain, may also be used.

Psychological Support

After receiving a comprehensive pain relief evaluation, Connecticut Children’s pediatric psychologists provide pain-focused cognitive behavioral therapy, relaxation and stress management techniques to children and teens. These complementary therapies are helpful components of care plans that support the development of self-management skills for chronic pain. In addition, by working with our pediatric psychologists, children and families are able to communicate more effectively with their health care team and school officials.