Thinking about chronic pain as an injury hurts treatment.
Chronic pain has serious physical and mental health consequences, interfering with school completion, the transition to work, and social and autonomy development. Adolescent chronic pain also has significant costs for parents, interfering with both work and family functioning. And treating pain is hard. Treatment adherence requires committing to a treatment plan that often increases short-term pain and has significant costs in terms of time, effort, and lifestyle restrictions. You need to exercise and stop eating food that tastes great. (My son experiences severe chronic pain. His worst trigger: pizza.) You need to push yourself out the door when every instinct tells you should crawl under the covers and sleep. It hurts. A lot.
Thousands of children go to school in pain every day
Let me tell you about my morning
I guess my morning started last night. Maybe it started a few months ago.
For the last several months, my son, like clockwork, gets a migraine on Sunday afternoon. It starts with him feeling a little odd and spacey. Then he would start getting flashing lights in front of his eyes. Sometimes the whole room he is looking at distorts, like one of those weird spatial anomalies in Star Trek.
Then the pain starts. Sharp stabbing pain through the top his head (ice pick headaches), the thudding at the base of his neck, and the pressure at both temples.
It’s not often that I read a scientific paper and immediately change how I parent my child.
But I did last week.
I was reading a series of pieces by developmental psychologist, Laurence Steinberg, first winner of the Jacobs award for “groundbreaking contributions to the improvement of the living condition”.