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Information for patients

Persistent pain

Put simply, chronic or persistent pain is any pain that has lasted for three months or longer.

Ongoing pain is not uncommon, but in some cases it can cause restrictions to activity which persist beyond the expected recovery time, and can last for many months or years.

Some people manage to maintain their activities but others find that over time, they become less active and that their lifestyle has changed. Often patients report that they have tried many treatments and consulted many specialists but their pain is ongoing. Others explain that changes in lifestyle, such as loss of a job have led to stress and depression.

Unfortunately, medicine does not have a cure for chronic pain, however, we see approximately 1,000 patients a year and the majority improve their level of physical ability and how they feel about the pain.

The emotional impact of living with persistent pain

We understand that living with pain can be challenging. It is common for people with persistent pain to experience mood changes, such as stress, anxiety and depression, and sometimes thoughts of suicide or self-harm.

Mental health emergencies

Optimise Pain Rehabilitation Unit is unable to offer support for mental health emergencies or crises.

If you are, or someone else is, in danger, call 999 or go to A&E now

For urgent help for your mental health, visit NHS 111 online or call 111:

Check your mental health symptoms - NHS 111

Your mental health is as important as your physical health. You will not be wasting anyone's time.

You may find it helpful to seek further support for your emotional wellbeing by accessing free local NHS talking therapies services. The support available will depend on the difficulties you would like help with, and where you live.

For further information please visit:

Mental health services - NHS website

Mental health support

If you are feeling in crisis or at risk, please consider any of the following options.

GP / out of hours service

Find a GP - NHS website


For people up to age 35 and anybody concerned for a young person.

  • Tel: 0800 068 4141
  • Text: 88247
  • Email:
  • 24 hours a day, seven days a week

Free, confidential text support service for anyone in the UK struggling to cope.

  • Text the word 'SHOUT' to 85258
  • 24 hours a day, seven days a week
Oxfordshire Safe Haven

Non-clinical, face to face safe space for Oxfordshire residents, for short-term support in mental health crisis when other services are not available.


Practical advice on coping during a crisis and looking after your emotional wellbeing.

Pain rehabilitation

Pain rehabilitation is a treatment designed to reduce the impact of pain on the person's life through exploring ways of living well with pain and increasing activity.

Pain rehabilitation uses strategies such as:

  • activity management
  • education
  • goal setting (working towards a valued activity)
  • graded exercise/activity
  • stretching
  • practical techniques to help to improve quality of life and function
  • psychological approaches.

Psychological approaches are used, since many patients have found that their mood has been affected or that they have started to be fearful of certain activities in case this provokes pain.

Graded exercises and activities are taught to help patients gradually build up functional levels, and at the same time help patients to develop confidence in their own ability, despite the pain. Emphasis is on patients becoming experts in the management of their condition.

Pain rehabilitation programmes

Patients need to travel in by themselves for the once a week programme. There is bed and breakfast accommodation for patients attending the three week programmes who live outside Oxfordshire. Patients would need to be able to get to the hospital independently from the bed and breakfast accommodation.



Understanding Pain in less than 5 minutes, and what to do about it! - Live Active

Struggling to be me with chronic pain - NIHRtv
People describe the experience of living with pain in their own words

TEDx Adelaide Lorimer Moseley: Why Things Hurt - Lee Campbell
Informative and entertaining presentation by Lorimer Moseley

Treating Pain Using the Brain - David Butler - Musculoskeletal Australia
Koadlow Public Lecture 2015

Other videos

Exercise videos for people with chronic pain

Let's Move with Leon - Versus Arthritis


Last reviewed:10 June 2024