Conquering Your Child's Chronic Pain: A Pediatrician's Guide for Reclaiming a Normal Childhood

Conquering Your Child's Chronic Pain: A Pediatrician's Guide for Reclaiming a Normal Childhood


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From a renowned expert in the field, a parent's guide to managing their child's chronic pain—to give back normal life to the 1 in 5 children for whom pain is a serious problem. A child's chronic pain undermines school performance and social and emotional health, erodes finances, and devastates the family.

This book reveals what parents can do to alleviate their child's pain on a daily basis. Dr. Zeltzer's clinic is renowned for treatment of pediatric pain stemming from headaches, arthritis, irritable bowel syndrome; fibromyalgia, and more, via a multidisciplinary approach including specialists in psychiatry, hypnotherapy, yoga, acupuncture, biofeedback, and others. Based on more than 30 years study, Dr. Zeltzer offers ways to take control of the pain and ultimately become pain-free. She explains how to tell if the pain has become chronic, soothe the nervous system, reactivate the body's natural pain control mechanisms, which medications are most effective, breathing, muscle relaxation and visualization techniques, how to reduce parents' guilt and much more.

It is never too late to treat pain in children, no matter how long it has lasted, says Dr. Zeltzer. Her book offers help and hope to families desperately in need.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780060570170
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 01/18/2005
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 627,205
Product dimensions: 5.31(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.73(d)

About the Author

Lonnie K. Zeltzer, M.D., is director of the Pediatric Pain Program at Mattel Children's Hospital at UCLA; professor of pediatrics, anesthesiology, and psychiatry at David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA; and medical director of the Trinity KidsCare Pediatric Hospice. She lives in Encino, California.

Christina Blackett Schlank, author of Medicine and Money, lives in Los Angeles, California.

Read an Excerpt

Conquering Your Child's Chronic PainChapter OneWhat Is Pain?

That which hurts, also instructs.
— Benjamin Franklin

Mark is a 14-year-old whose gastroenterologist could notfind a cause for the chronic esophageal pain he had hadfor four months, during which he was unable to eat, sleep, attendschool, or engage in other normal activities. Mark initially haddeveloped significant pain when swallowing, which continueduntil a yeast infection was diagnosed and treated. By that time,however, he had had the pain for six weeks and had missed thefirst month of school. After the infection was gone, his pain remained,despite a normal-appearing esophagus. Mark beganspending hours during the day crying, moaning, and scratchingat his chest. Instead of getting better, his pain was getting worse.

It can start quite suddenly.

Your daughter complains about a stomachache, which you attribute to the fast food she gobbled down at dinner the night before. Soon you noticeshe is complaining of similar aches in her stomach every few days. Acouple of days later, you notice her limping and rubbing her leg. Whenyou ask her about it, she says her leg feels hot and prickly. The complaintsseem unconnected, but you take her to the pediatrician for the stomachproblems. The doctor attributes the stomachaches to nerves. "After all,"he says, "the new school year is approaching." The leg pain, he attributesto normal "growing pains." "All children get them," he assures you. Fastforward:It is one year and dozens of doctors later. Your daughter is still inpain. In fact, the pain is much worse and has traveled to other areas of herbody. She is attending school sporadically, and she showslittle interest inthe things she once loved, such as her friends and gymnastics. What'smore, you are still no closer to knowing what is causing the pain. Yournerves are frazzled; you are missing work, are fighting with your husband,and feel guilty all the time. "How did this happen?" you ask yourself.

Pain is much more than an uncomfortable sensation that we allwould like to keep our children from experiencing. It can affect a child'sability to breathe easily, perform everyday tasks and activities, and eatnormally. It also interferes with sleep and energy, and it alters mood anddisrupts relationships.

You may be just beginning the journey to understanding yourchild's pain, or you may have been struggling with it for years. You maybe feeling many of the symptoms of what I call the "parent pain burnoutsyndrome" — fear, confusion, frustration, anger, and helplessness. You arenot alone. One in five children in the United States suffers from someform of chronic pain. That means that at least the same number or moreparents are suffering right along with those children.

Pain, in one form or another, is a part of every child's life experience.Some children are fortunate to experience only common cuts andbruises, whereas others experience more serious injury, illness, or disease.Some types of pain can be useful, because they teach children what is dan-gerous (e.g., touching a hot stove) or alert parents to a condition thatneeds immediate attention (e.g., acute pain in the right lower belly associatedwith appendicitis). However, chronic pain never serves a useful purpose.It is the most misunderstood of all childhood conditions for whichparents seek pediatric help.

Chronic Versus Acute Pain

Teresa, nine years old, had the flu and developed abdominalpain. Two different doctors told her that it was just the flu andnot to worry. However, her belly pain got worse. It turned outthat she had a ruptured appendix; she spent two weeks in the hospital.(Parents: Most cases of appendicitis are readily diagnosednot only by belly pain but also by physical examination and thechild's white blood cell count, so please don't worry every timeyour child has a stomachache.)

Teresa had a five-inch incision from her navel to her pelvicbone that had to remain open to allow the wound to drain. Sheexperienced severe postoperative and daily procedural pain whenthe surgeons cleaned her wound. After Teresa came home fromthe hospital, her mother, Deana, had to clean the wound so that itwould continue to drain. This daily process caused Teresa excruciatingpain. For Deana, performing this task while her childscreamed in pain was torture. The wound eventually drained andhealed, but Teresa's belly pain persisted.

Teresa started to fear going to the bathroom because ofthe pain and began having trouble sleeping at night. The directorof pediatric surgery at the hospital and two specialists told Deanathat Teresa's pain was "all in her head" and that she "was goingto have to live with it." They also believed that Teresa must have"a low pain tolerance" — rather ironic, considering what she hadalready endured.

Finally, a gastroenterologist was consulted. He was appalledand told Deana, "No child should have to experience orlive with this kind of pain." A simple statement, but it was atremendous relief to both Teresa and her mom because they hadbegun to feel that they were crazy. Despite his empathy, however,the gastroenterologist did not know how to help Teresa.

Today, nearly five years later, Teresa still suffers from somepain, although she has found many ways to alleviate much of it — including massage, Iyengar yoga, biofeedback, and low doses ofthe antidepressant Elavil and the antianxiety drug Effexor.

Pain generally has two basic forms — acute and chronic. Although mostpeople think of all pain as pretty much the same and so approach it thesame way, there are important differences between the two. Approachingthem with the same mind-set may result in prolonging a child's chronicpain. Also, inadequate treatment of acute pain or pain associated withmedical procedures or injuries may actually worsen chronic pain or leadto the development of chronic pain.

Conquering Your Child's Chronic Pain. Copyright © by Lonnie Zeltzer. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

What People are Saying About This

Laura Schanberg

“A wonderful book! Dr. Zeltzer’s approach is loving, respectful, upbeat, and best of all - successful.”

Charles Berde

“ outstanding book for parents of children and adolescents with chronic pain. I recommend it highly.”

Deepak Chopra

“An important, compassionate book...”

B.K.S. Iyengar

“I hope Dr. Zeltzer continues to do subjective research on yoga so that the young generation regains freedom from pain...”

Patrick J. McGrath

“Now [Dr. Zeltzer’s] wisdom is available to all.”

Steven J. Weisman

“...a must-read for any patient with chronic pain.”

Neil L. Schechter

“...a valuable and important book that will be appreciated by every family struggling with a child in pain.”

Vanna Axia

“This is an amazingly caring, competent, and useful book. It opens your mind but also your heart...”

David Geffen

“All [Dr. Zeltzer’s] work has resulted in real solutions for children and their parents.”

Kenneth R. Goldschneider

“...reassuring and informative. Parents will gain hope when they discover the many available treatment options.”

James Campbell

“Parents! If you hava child in pain, read this book. There is hope.”

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Conquering Your Child's Chronic Pain: A Pediatrician's Guide for Reclaiming a Normal Childhood 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Parenting a child in chronic pain, especially after a long search for diagnosis and treatment, is a challenge and lifechanging event for the entire family. This book is a great guide and can empower parents and help a parent even guide the medical treatment for their child...multifaceted treatment is crucial to regaining a happy childhood despite living with 24/7 pain.