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Pediatric pain guide for caregivers: Chronic pain and Complex pain

Learn about pediatric pain and how to manage it

What are chronic pain and complex pain?

Chronic pain begins with tissue damage, but continues or returns after tissues heal. Chronic pain can negatively impact mental and emotional wellbeing, social connections, and daily activities like school, work, and recreation. 

Complex pain is caused by changes to the nervous system. As a result, the person experiences pain that may not correspond to tissue damage. Like chronic pain, complex pain can negatively impact mental and emotional wellbeing, social connections, and daily activities. 

What you can do

Video below: Understanding pain in less than 5 minutes, and what to do about it (5:00, by GP Access and the Hunter Integrated Pain Service, Australia)
This video for children and teens explains how chronic pain involves rewiring of the brain, and how understanding this process can help you manage pain. 

Video below: Understanding pain - and what's to be done about it in 10 minutes (11:15, by the German Paediatric Pain Centre)
This video for children and teens explains how chronic pain works, and how your brain is involved.

Video below: Mystery of chronic pain (7:58, Dr. Elliot Krane,  for TED)
A pediatrician and anesthesiologist tells the story of a young patient with allodynia, and explains the role of the brain in chronic pain conditions.

Video below: Return to functioning in children and teens with chronic pain: The role of parents (50:49, by Dr. Erin Moon and Dr. Sue Bennett, BC Children's Hospital)
This webinar addresses the ways that chronic pain can impact a child or teen's life, and how parents can support a child or teen living with chronic pain.

Psychological experience of pain 


Serious illness




In-depth resources on complex and chronic pain

Learn with your child

Learn with your youth

Video below: The mysterious science of pain (5:03, by Dr. Joshua Pate, for TED)
The experience of pain is complicated. Dr. Pate identifies some of the factors that affect how you feel pain, and advocates for a multi-pronged approach to pain care.

Video below: Tame the beast: It's time to rethink persistent pain (5:00, by Prof. Lorimer Moseley and David Moen, South Australia)
This video, by a clinical pain scientist and physiotherapist, explains how you can shift your thought patterns to change how you experience pain. 

Pain myth busters: Chronic pain and complex pain

Pain care at BC Children's

BC Children’s Hospital promotes a balanced, collaborative partnership between:

  • The person receiving care,
  • Their caregiver(s), supporter(s), and family, and
  • Staff and healthcare professionals within the organization and community.  

We are committed to improving health outcomes and services. Learn about our approach in Mind-body techniques: Helping children to cope with painful procedures.

For more information about supporting your child’s pain and services available at BC Children’s go to our Pain management and comfort webpage.