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Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

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Pain rehabilitation programmes

Many patients attending our service may already have had investigations, medical and or surgical treatments, but despite this they still have persisting pain-related disability. Rehabilitation aims are:

Our aims are:

  • to improve your activity and mobility levels
  • to help you live a full life with pain
  • to explore new ways of managing persistent pain
  • to improve your confidence
  • to understand why pain persists
  • to return to meaningful activities.

Patient information leaflet

Our programmes

All programmes offer a combined physical and psychological approach but differ slightly in terms of content and duration. Our facilities are purpose-designed and include a gym and hydro pool. The group format ensures that people have a much greater amount of time with the therapists and gain more from the experiences and ideas of other people in the group. Many people worry about working in a group, but most soon find that meeting others in a similar situation is extremely helpful. Patients are issued with a handbook to use during and after the rehabilitation programme.

The following higher intensity programmes offer a combined physical and psychological approach as recommended in the NHS England National Pathway of Care for Low Back Pain and Radicular Pain 2015.

Get Back Active programme

This runs for three days per week for three weeks or for six evening sessions (one per week). There is a bed and breakfast facility, which is funded by the NHS, for patients who live outside of Oxfordshire. The programme involves group discussion, stretches, a graded circuit of exercises and hydrotherapy. In addition, there are optional sessions with the Disability Employment Advisor.

Adult family members or friends will have an opportunity to attend for some sessions during the three week programme to participate in the programme and gain an understanding of the treatment philosophy. Patients attending this programme may or may not be in work and have often undergone multiple treatments for pain with no lasting benefit. They may also have had symptoms for a number of years or months.

Balanced Life programme

This programme is a pain management programme which runs for three days a week over three weeks.

This programme offers lower intensity and slower paced exercises that are tailored to a level that people can cope with. The aim is to gently help patients return to a balanced approach to activity and enjoy a better quality of life.

A pain psychologist uses psychology-based treatment approaches which can enable people to live a meaningful and valued life. (See Dr Sandra Wiltshire's profile for more information.)

There is a bed and breakfast facility, funded by the NHS, for patients who live outside Oxfordshire. Patients attending this programme are similar to the Get Back Active Programme patients but, in addition, tend to use walking aids and have greater functional difficulties such as difficulty getting on and off the floor. The pain may also impact significantly on their mood.

Individual treatments

We can offer individual treatment with a physiotherapist or psychologist or both in special circumstances for those patients who have complex needs. We can also provide work up sessions to improve strength and psychological readiness to attend a group.