How to explain the role of pain to parents - Dr Jacey Pryjma
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How to explain the role of pain to parents

One of the hardest things about working with young children, particularly babies is that they can’t tell you when they are in pain or feeling uncomfortable.

So what do you do in your examination when you realise that a baby is in pain?

How do you show the family? How do you explain this? Perhaps the parents are unaware that their baby is in pain.

In this video I will show you how to use the presence of pain as an education tool for families.

We all know that pain is uncomfortable. It’s awful to have pain when you move, it makes you feel terrible, and in some cases it really makes you feel unwell.

Imagine being in pain and not being able to tell anyone about it.

For many babies this is a reality. If they have been in pain since birth, they may be babies that seem unsettled rather than crying all the time.

So let’s look at some of the signs to pick up on in an examination to know that a baby is in pain.

When you do your cervical range of motion – always check that the baby can move their head through the full range of motion to either side. This means that a baby should be able to get their chin to their shoulder and comfortably go just past it.

To know if a baby is in pain, look out for tightening of the postural muscles, a grimace, or a little abrupt sound or cry.

I find that one of the easiest ways to check and then get parents involved is to have the baby lying supine. When checking cervical ROM, watch to see if when you rotate their head that both shoulders remain on the table.

If the baby brings their shoulder with them, this is most likely a compensation for tightness or pain.  Ask the parent to hold the shoulder down any gently turn the head. You may find that once you stop the compensation, it’s easy to identify area of pain and range of motion restrictions, demonstrating why the baby couldn’t turn without bringing the shoulder.

In this position it is very easy to show the family that the baby is in pain.

This is where you start to explain to the families that little changes in the spine called subluxations can cause irritation through the baby’s spine – creating inflammation and affecting their overall health. We want to find these changes early and help the baby of course live pain-free, and grow healthily without that subluxation altering nervous system function and effecting overall health.

Many chiropractors steer away from talking about pain. However it can be a very easy way to start communicating on a level that everybody understands. Pain is an important indicator of the body and shouldn’t be ignored. Communication needs to be about how good pain is for letting us know that something is not quite right and the body is not coping.

Older children can let you know when they are in pain. It is a lot more of obvious and can be more easily addressed.

So when you are working a baby and it is in pain, whether it’s obvious or not, let the parents know why & show them where you can. Explain to them the role pain has and how you are going to take steps (directly or indirectly to address it)

So now I want to know from you – Do you ever speak about pain with parents? What do you do if a child is in pain, how do you talk about it?

Did you enjoy this video? Maybe you felt there was something that a colleague of yours would want or needs to hear, feel free to share it with them today!

Until next week, I’m Dr Jacey Pryjma from Well Kids with the Advice Chiropractors Need When Working With Kids’ See you then.

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