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Pain Management in Children


Children feel and express pain in different ways. Your child may or may not be able to tell you he is in pain. Your child may express pain with actions, such as crying. What may be painful to one child may not be painful to other children. Pain may be acute (short-term) or chronic (long-term). Pain management is an important part of your child's care.



  • Ibuprofen or acetaminophen: These medicines help decrease your child's pain. They can be bought without a doctor's order. Ask how much medicine is safe to give your child and how often to give it.
  • Narcotic analgesics: These medicines include codeine and morphine. They are used for moderate to severe pain. Do not wait until the pain is severe before you give your child his medicine.
  • Give your child's medicine as directed: Call your child's primary healthcare provider if you think the medicine is not working as expected. Tell him if your child is allergic to any medicine. Keep a current list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs your child takes. Include the amounts, and when, how, and why they are taken. Bring the list or the medicines in their containers to follow-up visits. Carry your child's medicine list with you in case of an emergency. Throw away old medicine lists.
  • Do not give aspirin to children under 18 years of age: Your child could develop Reye syndrome if he takes aspirin. Reye syndrome can cause life-threatening brain and liver damage. Check your child's medicine labels for aspirin, salicylates, or oil of wintergreen.

Follow up with your child's primary healthcare provider or pain specialist as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

Contact your child's primary healthcare provider or pain specialist if:

  • Your child has a fever.
  • Your child has nausea or vomiting.
  • Your child is more sleepy than usual after he takes his medicine.
  • You have questions about your child's condition or care.

Seek care immediately or call 911 if:

  • Your child's skin becomes red, swollen, and itchy.
  • Your child suddenly has trouble breathing.
  • Your child is sad, depressed, or not able to cope with his pain or illness.
  • Your child's pain does not get better, or he has new pain.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.