One and a half billion people around the world suffer from chronic pain, but an alarming trend is that more and more of them are children. In the United States alone, the number of children who were admitted to a hospital due to chronic pain grew by over 830% in just six years. The good news is that pediatric pain rehabilitation centers, like the one at Boston Children’s Hospital, are helping kids find peace with their pain.
According to the Boston Globe, there are now more than 30 pediatric pain centers in the United States, which all help children manage pain. They offer treatments and services like acupuncture, biofeedback training, sleep specialists, and exercise facilities. Boston Children’s Hospital is the first to offer a day-treatment program.
Among children ages seven to 18, 8% live with frequent abdominal pain, 14% with back pain, 4% with musculoskeletal pain, and one in five reports suffering from weekly headaches.
“Boston Children’s Hospital has led the way in terms of starting the first day-treatment program, but such programs are becoming more of a trend because they’re so badly needed,” Dr. Lonnie Zeltzer told The Boston Globe. She is the director of the children’s pain and comfort care program at Mattel Children’s Hospital UCLA.
Treatments at the Mayo Family Pediatric Pain Rehabilitation Center in Waltham combine the expertise of a psychologist, an occupational therapist, a physical therapist, and a physician to help the children deal with and manage their pain.
The goal is not to cure the pain, but to equip the children with effective methods of coping with it, like chewing gum, talking with a friend, or squeezing putty. The centers also help kids to be able to deal with common occurrences like getting bumped into in a hallway, to help them prepare to return to a normal lifestyle.
The center costs about $2,700 per day, but that’s a drop in the bucket compared to the overall cost of chronic pain; according to the Institute of Medicine, medical treatment and lost productivity due to chronic pain amounts to about $600 billion per year.