Medicines To Help With Pain During Tests & Procedures

Medicines To Help With Pain During Tests & Procedures

There are many different types of medicines to help reduce your child's pain and anxiety during tests and procedures for cancer. 

Key points to remember about medicines to help with pain during tests and procedures

  • numbing medicine numbs the skin and tissues underneath the skin
  • numbing medicine may burn a little bit at first
  • sedation involves using medicine, or a combination of medicines, to help your child relax or sleep through the test or procedure

Will my child need medicine to numb their skin before their test or procedure?

This page is part of a whole section about childhood cancer.

Your child may have a numbing medicine before a test or procedure. This medicine may be a cream, spray, patch, or another device placed on the skin.  

The medicine numbs the skin and tissues underneath the skin.  For many children, this is enough numbing medicine for a needle procedure.

After the medicine has numbed the surface of the skin, sometimes your child will have another numbing medicine. A doctor will inject this medicine a little bit deeper into the tissue using a small needle. This numbing medicine may burn a little bit at first, but after 1 to 2 minutes, the tissue will feel numb all the way down to the bone.

Will my child need sedation for their test or procedure?

If your child needs more than local anaesthesia (numbing the skin and tissues), your healthcare team will talk with you about sedation.

Sedation involves using medicine, or a combination of medicines, to help your child relax or sleep through the test or procedure.  

There are different levels of sedation, ranging from a feeling of calm, to sleepiness, to being completely asleep (general anaesthesia). The level of sedation will depend on your child's condition, procedure anxiety, and hospital guidelines.  

The goal of all levels of sedation is to keep your child comfortable and free from pain. Talk with your healthcare team to learn more about what type of sedation is best for your child.

All the pages in the childhood cancer section of this website have been written by health professionals who work in the field of paediatric oncology. They have been reviewed by the members of the National Child Cancer Network (NZ). Medical information is authorised by the clinical leader of the National Child Cancer Network.

This page last reviewed 22 September 2020.
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