A Referral's Guide to the Only Inpatient Chronic Pain Management Program in New Jersey

At the Children’s Specialized Hospital Center for Pediatric Chronic Pain, our expert team helps patients with amplified pain learn strategies to manage pain so they can return to functional activity and be fully engaged in school, home, and community life.

An estimated 15 to 20 percent of children experience chronic pain. Many suffer a significant loss of function and are unable to attend school, play sports, or engage in other activities. They may face social and psychological consequences as a result of their pain and accompanying disability.

At the Children’s Specialized Hospital Center for Pediatric Chronic Pain, our expert team helps patients with amplified pain learn strategies to manage pain so they can return to functional activity and be fully engaged in school, home, and community life. The center treats children, adolescents, and young adults from 11 to 21 years of age with common pain syndromes, including:

  • Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS); otherwise known as reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD)
  • Reflex neuropathic dystrophy (RND)
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Amplified musculoskeletal pain syndrome (AMPS)
  • Chronic headaches
  • Chronic abdominal pain

Children’s Specialized has the only inpatient pediatric chronic pain center in the state. As the center’s director, I’m a fellowship-trained pediatric physiatrist with experience in rehabilitation. Other team members include physical and occupational therapists, a nurse practitioner, psychologist, patient care coordinator, and our newest addition: a patient navigator to handle referrals and assist patients through the treatment process.

Pediatric patients with chronic pain undergo many diagnostic tests to rule out other disorders. When they come to us for treatment they receive a thorough evaluation by a physiatrist and psychologist. The recommendations may include outpatient care, referral for other medical or mental health services, or admission to our inpatient program, which treats children who have significant pain despite trials of outpatient therapy. The focus of this evidence-based program is on regaining function, de-emphasizing pain, and developing pain management skills.

Studies show that children with chronic pain are helped most by multidisciplinary care combining cognitive behavioral therapy and rehabilitation. That’s precisely our approach. We avoid prescribing pain medications and emphasize a longer-term strategy of maximizing a child’s control over his or her pain. Treatment is customized and includes:

  • Physical therapy
  • Occupational therapy
  • Aquatherapy
  • Individual and group therapy, including yoga and meditation
  • Education for family members

The physical component is rigorous. Patients engage in challenging activities for several hours each day,
pushing themselves to achieve self-identified weekly goals.

By the end of treatment, our hope is that patients have developed adaptive coping strategies to
independently manage their pain. The ultimate goal is to improve function so children can return to their
regular routines without any physical modifications and medications. The average length of inpatient stay
is four weeks. Patients are discharged with exercises to do on their own and are followed closely for one year.

Thanks to our expert team and thorough therapeutic approach, we’ve achieved some excellent outcomes:

  • Pain-level scores of 6.6 out of 10 at admission dropped to 3.9 at discharge.
  • The average score of patient-reported functional disability decreased from 28.1 of 30 at admission to 9.4 of 30 at discharge.

We welcome referrals and invite community physicians to partner with us in caring for patients with chronic pain. The center works closely with in- and out-of- network insurance providers to obtain coverage.

To learn more about the program or schedule a patient evaluation, contact patient navigator Laura Valentino at 732-258-7150 or LValentino@childrens-specialized.org.


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