Pain and Integrative Medicine

Pain Disorders and Integrative Medicine

Chronic pain in children and young people is often difficult to diagnose. Sometimes parents and doctors attribute it to “growing pains” or they think the pain is not real. But not only is pediatric chronic pain “real”, it can be intense and excruciating, and it can limit or stop a child’s normal activities. It can cause a child to become immobile, which only aggravates the condition, leading to more pain and eventually, emotional issues and isolation. The Pain & Integrative Medicine program at The Children's Institute of Pittsburgh provides a holistic approach to care that focuses on the mind, body and spirit.

pain rehabilitation




To learn more about the program or schedule an evaluation, please call 412-420-2561, or fill out the form below to receive a phone call. See below for additional program information.


Chronic pain has a number of diagnoses and causes
• Reflex Neurovascular Dystrophy (RND)
• Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD)
• Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS)
• Amplified Musculoskeletal Pain Syndrome (AMPS)
• Pediatric Fibromyalgia
• Concussions
• Chronic Headaches/Migraines
• Pediatric Arthritis/Joint Pain
• Functional Abdominal Pain

Our multidisciplinary team utilizes a variety of treatments that can reduce the need for multiple practitioners, invasive procedures and prescription medications. Addressing both physical and behavioral needs through a care plan that focuses on optimizing lifestyle variables such as nutrition, exercise, sleep and stress management, enhances function and improves quality of life for children and teens living with chronic pain and their loved ones.

Directed by a physician specializing in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, the team may also include:

• Physical Therapist

• Occupational Therapist

• Pain Psychologist/Behavioral Therapist

• Educational Support

• Dietitian

• Acupuncturist

• Massage Therapist

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Pain and Integrative Medicine

Putting integrative health into practice
The Pain & Integrative Medicine program serves kids of all ages with chronic pain, including those families who are exploring treatments outside the typical medical model of care. Physicians and therapists provide physical/medical services to promote increased strength, endurance and agility, breaking the cycle of pain to reduce hypersensitivity.

Behavioral health services offer techniques to identify stressors, pain triggers and warning signals while teaching coping skills and appropriate expressions of thoughts and feelings.

Our Complementary Approach to Treatment
The first step is a comprehensive evaluation by a Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation physician. Treatments typically include physical therapy, occupational therapy, land and aquatic therapy, intense exercise therapy and behavioral therapy. Complementary mind and body health practices that may be added to enhance these treatments include:

Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment (OMT) - Moving muscles and joints by stretching, gentle pressure and resistance
Craniosacral Therapy - Manipulating the joints of the head, spine and pelvis to affect the pressure and circulation of fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord
Myofascial Release - Applying gentle pressure to specific connective tissues (fascia) to relax tight muscles, improve blood flow and increase flexibility

Other approaches that may be included in an integrated treatment plan include:
Massage/Reiki/Therapeutic touch
Dry-needling/Trigger point injections
Parent/child education
Guided imagery/Relaxation
Yoga therapy

Program Goals
The Pain Rehabilitation team establishes individual goals for each child, which may include:
• Returning full functionality to the affected area
• Returning to school and daily activities
• Increasing strength, endurance and agility
• Decreasing sensitivity to touch
• Using skills to manage pain and stress

Ultimately, the goal is long-term self-management of chronic pain to achieve an independent lifestyle.

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