Vital Signs: Pain Assessment

Vital Signs: Pain Assessment


  • Obtain an initial history from the child and/or the family members of the current pain, including the following:

    • What words the child uses to communicate pain (use these words when talking with the child)

    • Presence of pain: “Are you having any pain?” If yes, then obtain the following:

      • Character and quality: “Tell me what the pain feels like” (e.g., burning, stabbing, aching, pinching)

      • Onset: “When did the pain start? Did anything happen to set off the pain?”

      • Location and radiation: “Where is the pain? Does it go to other places?” For younger children: “Point to where the pain is.” Coloring pain location on a body outline tool may help a child identify the site.

      • Duration: “How long have you been feeling this pain?”

      • Frequency: “How often does the pain occur? Is it all the time or just at certain times?”

      • Exacerbation: “Does anything make the pain worse?”

      • Relief and present pain regimen: “Does anything help make the pain better?” “What are you doing to try to make the pain go away?” Ask about medications—prescription and over-the-counter medications, herbs, nonpharmacologic interventions, effectiveness of regime, side effects of regime

      • Association: “Have daily routines and habits changed because of the pain?” “What is the effect on eating, sleeping, elimination, activity, or other behavior patterns?”

  • For a child who is preverbal or has special needs, ask the family and record in child’s plan of care how the child usually behaves when he or she is in pain and what interventions may help.

  • Assess what coping techniques the child and the family have previously used successfully.

  • Reinforce to the child that pain is not a punishment for misdeeds, particularly for preschool-aged and young school-aged children.

  • Teach the child and the family how to use a developmentally appropriate pain assessment tool, before a painful event, when possible. Select tool based on developmental age of the child and type of pain or medical condition (e.g., procedural or postoperative pain). Assess the child’s ability to understand tool (e.g., understands the concept of seriating, greater than, less than). Introduce a different tool if the child does not understand how to use the first tool to express his or her pain level.

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Jul 9, 2020 | Posted by in NURSING | Comments Off on Vital Signs: Pain Assessment

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