The aim of this study was to explore how children aged 10-18 years describe their neuropathic pain (NP). This is a qualitative descriptive study using inductive content analysis. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with eight children, aged 10-18 years with varying diagnoses, who were experiencing NP.
All children were able to describe their NP using a variety of strategies, including use of literal and figurative language. While some sensory descriptors commonly reported by adults were used, descriptions of NP pattern and impact were also integral to their narratives. Children were able to differentiate NP from nociceptive pain. Parents clarified and gave context to pain reports.
NP is a complex experience necessitating consideration of the different ways that children describe their symptoms. Involvement of parents is invaluable to the process of taking a pain history with a child who is being screened for NP. Implications for Rehabilitation The findings of the study may inform the screening process for NP in children to facilitate earlier identification. Clinicians should consider the variety of ways that children may express their NP symptoms and the resulting impact. Clinicians should probe further when children report that symptoms are hard to describe or “weird”. Presence of a parent during the child’s pain assessment may assist with gathering a more complete picture.