For Parents: How to Help Kids with Chronic Pain Head Back to School

For Parents: How to Help Kids with Chronic Pain Head Back to School
With every new school year comes the health warnings regarding carrying heavy backpacks. It can be damaging to every kid’s posture, but is especially worrisome for children suffering from chronic pain. Ordinary things most children take for granted can feel unbearable to kids with chronic pain, from routine things like wearing new school uniforms, to going to class, sitting at a desk, even walking to the cafeteria. Chronic pain in children is often a consequence of diseases like juvenile arthritis, migraine, or fibromyalgia, among others. It is estimated that one in every four kids deals with some sort of pain, according to Dr. Tonya Palermo, a professor of anesthesiology and pain medicine at the University of Washington School of Medicine and co-author of "Managing Your Child's Chronic Pain." Usually, abdominal and musculoskeletal types of pain are among the most common. "School is a huge challenge," Palermo, a researcher in pediatric chronic pain at Seattle Children’s Hospital, said in a press release. She said that for kids, pain can be disruptive on every level, affecting everthing from sleep patterns to friendships. "School's so complicated because it's a big mix of academic demands, emotional demands, social demands, and cognitive demands," Palermo said. But parents can help their kids overcome these daily challenges. Here’s how: