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Aches and Pains

Aches and pains in children and young people can happen for lots of reasons. Mostly aches and pains last a short time and are because of a minor illness or minor injury. Other times it is caused by an injury, serious illness or long term condition and will need specialist attention and treatment.

It is always hard to see your child in pain and this page will give you some ideas on how to help.


  • It might be very clear what is causing the pain and that your child needs immediate help. Take your child to A&E or call 999 if;

    • Your child is bleeding and you can’t stop this
    • Your baby / child is floppy, difficult to wake or unusually drowsy
    • Your child has severe tummy pain, has blood in their vomit or is cold and clammy.

    Call 111 to discuss your child’s condition if you are worried they have the signs of;

  • Sometimes it is less obvious why your child is in pain and what will help them most.

    Older children can tell you when they have a pain and where it hurts.

    It is harder when you have a very young child or a child with communication problems. Then the first thing is to work out if they have a pain and where it might be.

    You might notice that your child just ‘isn’t their usual self’ and / or they could have other signs of pain like;

    • Crying and irritability –or being quiet and withdrawn.
    • Sleeping more, or less than usual.
    • Going off drinks and foods (small babies may want to feed more- they get comfort from sucking).
    • Not moving and/or not wanting you to touch a certain body part – they may get upset if you do.
    • Pulling at their ears (headaches or earaches) Pulling their knees up or curl into a ball (colic and tummy aches).
    • Biting down hard on things and having a snotty nose, or rosy cheeks (teething & toothaches).

    You can ask older children to tell you more about the pain so you can work out how best to help them. You could ask them to tell you;

    • Where the pain is.
    • How long they have had it.
    • Can they remember hurting themselves?
    • Have they had a pain like this before?

    Ask them what they think they need; they may just want a cuddle or a lie down.

    Some pain will only last a very short time and clear up on its own. If you are not sure how bad their pain is, or what is causing the pain, watch and wait for a short while. Once you have a better idea of how much the pain is affecting them it is easier to decide what help they need.

    • See how your child is behaving are they distressed, unusually quiet or easily distracted?
    • Does the pain seem to be there all of the time? Does it come and go?
    • What makes it better or worse?

    Aches and pains can make your child feel worried and frightened; having you close by to reassure them will make a big difference.

    Some children (and parents!) benefit from using some relaxation techniques to help with pain. There are some NHS ones to try *here*.

  • There are special painkillers for children. It is important you give the correct type and dose for your child’s age and size.

    If you are not sure about this talk to your pharmacist (find a pharmacist *here*). There is some information on giving medicines to children in the 'Need More Information' section below.

    If the pain carries on for more than a day or two, or you feel worried, get more advice from the pharmacist, 111 or your GP. You will find it easier to answer their questions.


Who Can Help?

You can contact the Healthy Child Programme by calling Just One Number on 0300 300 0123 or texting Parentline on 07520631590. Our opening hours are 8am-6pm Monday-Friday (excluding bank holidays) and 9am-1pm on Saturdays.

If you are 11-19 you can text ChatHealth on 07480635060 for confidential advice from one of our team.

You can speak to other Norfolk parents and carers by clicking our online community forum below. 

The Lullaby Trust - Baby Check App - This app has simple checks that you can do if your baby is ill and helps you think about whether they need to see a doctor or health professional.

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