Pain medicine

What is pain medicine?

Pain medicine deals with acute and chronic/complex pain management. Acute pain management is for children before, during and after surgery or other painful procedures. Chronic or complex pain services are provided to children who have persistent ongoing pain.

How do we help children with pain medicine?

The Sydney Children's Hospitals Network (SCHN)  pain medicine service is provided at both The Children's Hospital at Westmead (CHW) and Sydney Children's Hospital, Randwick (SCH).

The acute pain management service works in close collaboration with the Department of Anaesthesia and reinforces the approach that peri-operative (before, during and after surgery) pain management begins with peri-operative consultation and includes intra-operative and post-operative analgesic management. The acute pain services also supervise and consult on nitrous oxide procedural sedation throughout the two hospitals.

Chronic or complex pain services of the SCHN provide expertise in the management of complex and intractable pain in children with cancer and non-cancer diagnoses and receive state-wide referrals from specialist paediatricians, paediatric surgeons and GPs. The services supervise the management of children with persisting post-operative pain who have been discharged home receiving long-term opioids and/or analgesic therapy. A significant feature of these services in keeping children well and out of hospital is a nurse led telephone follow-up service at both sites.

An interactive website, Pain Bytes, was developed by health practitioners in New South Wales and is a way for young people to access strategies for pain management and share individual stories. This on-line tool is research based

Tips for preparing for hospital

Find a relaxing activity that you enjoy and practice it every day for two weeks before coming to hospital.  The more you practice, the calmer you may feel, and the easier it will be for you to use this activity as a calming tool.  As well as calming you in hospital, this activity can help calm down any pain.

Ideas to relax can include:

  • Deep 'belly' breathing (breathe 'low and slow')
  • Exploring your favourite place in your mind (think of what you can see, hear, smell, taste and touch)
  • Meditation
  • Relaxing music
  • Colouring-in

Remember: if you have any questions about your hospital stay, it's helpful to talk with your doctors beforehand.

What to bring to hospital

As well s the usual items you bring to hospital, bring items or activities that you really enjoy, and that help you take your mind off things.  This might include your favourite:

  • Electronic device (with charger)*
  • Music
  • Book/s
  • TV shows or movies (on your electronic device)*
  • Games
  • Colouring-in
  • Puzzles
*Guest Wifi is available

Make sure you label anything you bring from home with your full name, and keep it stored in a safe place during your stay!

Tips for when you're in hospital

Medicine: Your doctors and nurses will talk to you about using medicine to help manage your pain.  Medicines will often reduce pain so you are more comfortable, but may not get rid of your pain completely.  Let them know if the medicines are working or not

Movement: Muscles and joints like movement, and can get sore if you stay still.  Whether you are comfortable or not, as soon as you are allowed move around in bed often and get up and out of bed

Mind: Whether you are comfortable or not, do lots of relaxing activities.  Also make sure you do lots of activities to help you take your mind off things, such as:

  • Read books
  • Listen to music
  • Play games
  • Look at funny videos online*
  • Check out fun things in the hospital like Starlight TV, the Starlight Room, the Book Bunker (at The Children's Hospital at Westmead), art around the corridors, outside garden areas

*Guest Wifi is available