Treatments and tests

Pain relief for children after a procedure

It is common for your child's anaesthetist to start pain relief during the procedure.

Pain relief for minor procedures

Pain from minor procedures usually responds well to paracetamol, a paracetamol/codeine mixture or anti-inflammatory medications. These are given orally before surgery or by a rectal suppository during the procedure. They can be continued after the procedure as needed.

Day surgery patients are usually discharged from hospital 1 to 4 hours after leaving the recovery room.

Pain relief for major procedures

Pain experienced after major surgery is treated with morphine or similar medications. These are given in the hospital via a drip, which is controlled by a nurse. Older children can use a special pump and hand piece to administer the take these medications as required. This is called patient-controlled analgesia (PCA). Both methods are very safe and do not result in drug addiction.

Local anaesthetics are frequently used to reduce post-operative pain in children. The anaesthetics are given either by an injection close to the surgical site or an injection around the nerves that register pain from the surgical site.

Epidural injections are also used for pain management in children. Local anaesthetic is injected into the base of the spine. It provides excellent pain relief and has a good safety record. The anaesthetist may leave a fine tube in the epidural space for pain relief over several days. This is similar to the epidural used for women in labour.

Where to get help

  • See your doctor
  • Visit a GP after hours
  • Ring healthdirect on 1800 022 222

Child and Adolescent Health Service

This publication is provided for education and information purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical care. Information about a therapy, service, product or treatment does not imply endorsement and is not intended to replace advice from your healthcare professional. Readers should note that over time currency and completeness of the information may change. All users should seek advice from a qualified healthcare professional for a diagnosis and answers to their medical questions.

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