In collaboration with Keck School of Medicine

Addressing Chronic Pain Among Caregivers of Children

caregiver of children

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, over three million children in the country have a disability [1]. These special health care needs often lead to them needing a caregiver that provides assistance, whether for assistance walking, dressing, bathing, or in another way. Until now, little attention has been paid to what type of burden the caregiver of children with special health care needs may encounter.

Researchers set out to determine if caregivers who provide care to children with special health care needs tend to have higher rates of chronic pain. They published the results of their study in the March 2022 issue of the journal Medical Care [2]. Researchers conducted a cross-sectional study spanning five years.

They gathered information from over 46,000 caregivers who have children with special health care needs. They set out to see if there was an association with the number of caregivers who experienced chronic pain. They considered whether the caregivers were providing a high or low caregiver burden and if other issues may contribute to the chronic pain that the caregivers may experience.

They found in the study that those who provide care for children who have special health care needs tend to experience chronic pain more often. They also found that experiencing disability, being obese, and having a mental health diagnosis were associated with higher odds of chronic pain.

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It’s essential for caregivers to actively take measures to avoid burnout and keep themselves healthy. By doing so, they may help reduce the health-related burdens brought on by the mental and physical stress of being a caregiver. Caregivers who have children with special health care needs should be mindful of this information.

Numerous things can be done to help keep the body and mind healthy, and adding some of them to the routine has to be a top priority. They can do this by finding a support group to attend, taking care of their mental and physical health, getting help from others so they can take breaks, and developing coping skills that help them address and relieve stress.

Professionals who work with children who have special health care needs may want to provide helpful self-care suggestions to the parent or caregiver. They can play an essential role in helping the caregiver stay healthier mentally and physically, and possibly avoid conditions that may lead them to chronic pain.

Earn an Online Postgraduate Degree in Pain Medicine

Like what you’re learning? Consider enrolling in the Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC’s online, competency-based certificate or master’s program in Pain Medicine in partnership with the Keck School of Medicine of USC.


  1. U.S. Census Bureau. Disability Rates Highest Among American Indian and Alaska Native Children and Children Living in Poverty.
  2. Medical Care. Caregiver Burden in Caregivers of Children with Special Health Care Needs and Association with Chronic Pain. March 2022.

This article was originally published on Confronting Chronic Pain by Dr. Steven Richeimer, Director Pain Medicine Master and Certificate.

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