Pain assessment is the first step in the management of pain. To treat pain effectively, ongoing assessment of the presence and severity of pain and the child’s response to treatment is essential. However, pain assessment poses many challenges in children because of the subjective nature of pain, and developmental and language limitations. In addition, not all children behave in the same way when in pain and so the factors identified in Figure 72.1 need considering when carrying out a pain assessment.
There are a plethora of pain assessment tools available. If you work on a general paediatric ward you are likely to have two or three tools available to cater for the ages of children cared for. Some of the most commonly used pain assessment tools are listed in Figure 72.5.