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[Pain in children with neurological impairment: A review from the French Pediatric Neurology Society]

Journal title
Archives de pediatrie : organe officiel de la Societe francaise de pediatrie
Publication year
Avez-Couturier, J.; Joriot, S.; Peudenier, S.; Juzeau, D.

Management of pain is one of the major expectations of children with neurological impairment and their families. The medical literature is poor on this topic accounting for approximately 0.15 % of the publications on pain in general. The objective of the French Pediatric Neurology Society was to review the current knowledge on this topic. Bibliographic research was conducted with PubMed and RefDoc for publications between 1994 and 2014 in French or English. A total of 925 articles were retrieved and 92 were selected for review. Pain is common in this population: a 2-week survey indicated that pain occurs in 50-75 % of children. Pain negatively impacts the quality of life of children and their parents. Children with neurological impairment express their pain with pain expression patterns and specific patterns common to children (change of tone, abnormal movements, spasticity, paradoxical reactions, such as laughter, self-injury or vasomotor dysfunction). Some children with neurological impairment are able to use self-report pain scales. If not, observational measures should be used. Behavioral rating scales specifically designed for this population are more sensitive than others. Scales must be selected according to children’s communication skills, type of pain, and the context. Sometimes behavioral changes are the only expression of pain: any change in sleep, tone, feeding, or mood must suggest pain in this population. Management of pain remains difficult. There are no specific guidelines. Procedural pain management guidelines and the usual analgesic drugs can be used in children with neurological impairment with specific concerns regarding tolerance and side effects. These children are particularly at risk for neuropathic pain. A multidisciplinary approach is helpful, involving physicians, nurses, physiotherapists, psychologists and parents.

Research abstracts