Relief for each child’s pain, acute or chronic

As a parent, it’s hard to see your child in pain. Our pain management specialists work to control kids’ pain, so neither you nor your child will experience discomfort.

Each child’s pain is unique, so their treatment must be too. We use a variety of therapies to help children feel better. Programs we offer include:

  • Acute pain service: Focuses on managing pain after surgery or an injury.

  • Inpatient pain consultation service: Helps your child’s main doctor manage your child’s pain. Services include help with chronic pain, withdrawal from opioids and complex medication regimens.

Conditions and treatments

Easing pain and helping kids heal

Pain can affect children physically and mentally. It can result from an injury or surgery, or pain might be caused by a chronic condition. Even having blood drawn or getting a shot could cause discomfort for a little one. We work to find the treatment that’s right for your child based on their needs.

Our pain management team treats a variety of conditions. Some of the most common conditions include:

  • Abdominal pain

  • Arthritis/joint pain

  • Back pain

  • Cancer

  • Headache/migraine

  • Lupus

  • Nerve-related pain

  • Opioid withdrawal (for children who are physically dependent on opioids and need help weaning off them)

  • Sickle cell disease

  • Surgery-related pain

  • Traumatic injury

Non-drug pain relief techniques

Several techniques can lessen pain during procedures, such as needle pokes or getting stitches. These techniques do not involve medication.

Comfort positions involve holding your child in a way that makes them feel safe and secure. These positions can be calming for your child and allow care providers to complete a procedure safely.

Distraction diverts your child’s attention from a painful procedure. When children do an interesting activity appropriate for their age, they’re less likely to experience discomfort. Diversions for a young child might include singing, blowing bubbles or playing with light-up toys. For older children, music, deep breathing, telling jokes or screen time on a mobile device might help.

Swaddling involves securely wrapping a child’s body with a light blanket but leaving the head uncovered. This can mimic a mother’s womb and be soothing for an infant.

Items that produce vibrations and cold on the skin — like Buzzy, a tool that resembles a friendly bee — can lessen pain. These sensations essentially block pain signals.


We use prescription drugs known as opioids and non-opioid medications to control pain. We save the strongest medicines for when they’re most needed. When required, we use these medicines safely and reduce their use as soon as possible. Children receive medication by mouth or directly in a vein (IV).

Tools we offer to help control pain include:

Epidural catheters are thin tubes that we place in your child’s spine to deliver pain medicine.

PCA uses a special pump to deliver medication by IV. The pump allows children who are old enough to give themselves the medicine when they feel they need it. Safety features prevent your child from getting too much medicine.

Treatment process

Personalized treatment plans that put kids first

Each child we see gets personalized attention. When children are in the hospital, we work closely with their other providers. We also work closely with parents and caregivers. We take the time to understand each child’s condition and their specific needs.

Based on what we learn, we form a treatment plan. Your child’s care team considers factors such as the type of pain, the child’s age and what we feel will be most helpful. Your input will be vital. If what we try first doesn’t work, we’ll continue with other options until we find something that does. When necessary, we continue treatment through our outpatient clinic.

Smiling child with signing UW Health Kids
UW Health Kids
Our pediatric experts have served the special needs of children for more than 100 years. We focus on each child’s unique needs and offer social and emotional support to help you and your child face even the most complex condition. Our long history includes the creation of medical advances that save lives around the world. Together, we get your child back to health and enjoying being a kid.

Meet our team

Expertise to help your child feel good and function well

An experienced team of experts will provide pain management for your child — and you’ll be part of that team. Because you know your child best, we’ll rely on you to share information and speak up for your child. Team members you could work with include:

  • Advance practice nurses

  • Anesthesiologists

  • Child Life specialists

  • Occupational therapists

  • Pharmacists

  • Physical therapists

  • Psychologists

Our providers


Making a difference for your child

UW Health offers outpatient clinic and inpatient services at American Family Children’s Hospital in Madison, Wis.

Patient support and services

Tips and resources for parents

The following resources can help you learn more about pain and how to help your child manage it.

Learn more about pain control tools to help your child at home or at the hospital:

Educational videos

These videos can increase your understanding of pain and the ways we ease pain for kids:

Related services