Pain in children: recent advances and ongoing challenges

Br J Anaesth. 2008 Jul;101(1):101-10. doi: 10.1093/bja/aen097. Epub 2008 Apr 21.


Significant advances in the assessment and management of acute pain in children have been made, and are supported by an increase in the availability and accessibility of evidence-based data. However, methodological and practical issues in the design and performance of clinical paediatric trials limit the quantity, and may influence the quality, of current data, which lags behind that available for adult practice. Collaborations within research networks, which incorporate both preclinical and clinical studies, may increase the feasibility and specificity of future trials. In early life, the developing nervous system responds differently to pain, analgesia, and injury, resulting in effects not seen in later life and which may have long-term consequences. Translational laboratory studies further our understanding of developmental changes in nociceptor pathway structure and function, analgesic pharmacodynamics, and the impact of different forms of injury. Chronic pain in children has a negative impact on quality of life, resulting in social and emotional consequences for both the child and the family. Despite age-related differences in many chronic pain conditions, such as neuropathic pain, management in children is often empirically based on data from studies in adults. There is a major need for further clinical research, training of health-care providers, and increased resources, to improve management and outcomes for children with chronic pain.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Chronic Disease
  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Pain / drug therapy*
  • Pain Measurement / methods
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic