Like any good parent, you don’t want to see your child suffer. But sadly, pain is an unfortunate fact of life. And at some time or another, your child will experience it – whether it’s because of accident or illness, or is simply a part of growing up.But how does your child feel pain? What purpose does it serve? To help you understand pain a little more, here are the answers to some intriguing questions:
What is pain?Throughout your child’s body are millions of nerve fibres, some of which end in pain receptors called nociceptors. These nerve fibres are constantly telling your child’s brain what is going on in their body and their environment. When your little one is ill or hurts them self, the nociceptors detect the tissue damage and transmit pain signals to their brain, via nerves in the spinal cord. At the same time, the tissues around the affected area release chemicals called prostaglandins. These chemicals sensitise the nerves and help amplify the pain signals – to make sure the brain listens.
Why do children feel pain?Pain is the body’s way of telling us that something, somewhere needs some attention. For example, if your child sprains an ankle, the pain tells them that they’ve hurt something and it needs to be looked at. They can then let you know.
Why do some children feel more pain than others?
Some children (and many adults) have very high pain thresholds, others low pain thresholds. One reason for this is perception. The brain works by association, so if your child’s had a particularly painful experience in their past, their brain may link any future pain with this experience. And, as a result, they may find it more difficult to cope with the new pain.Pain thresholds are also affected by emotions: if your child is depressed or anxious, their threshold may be low. While strong emotions, such as excitement or fear, can temporarily stop your child from feeling pain.