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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 to:

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

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 NICE Low Back Pain and Sciatica Guidelines.

Get Back Active programme

This runs for two days per week for three weeks at the Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre, and for two days per week for three weeks at the Horton General Hospital.

There is a bed and breakfast facility, which is funded by the NHS, for patients who live outside of Oxfordshire and who are attending for treatment in Oxford. The programme involves group discussion, stretches and a graded circuit of exercises.

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 at the Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre, and for two days per week for four weeks at the Horton General Hospital.

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.

Compassion in Pain Group

Persistent pain can be very difficult to manage day-to-day. This can often lead to a battle with our pain, trying to 'beat it' in order to have a normal life. We can also end up being critical of ourselves, e.g. for not being able to do what we would like, or because we fear we are letting others down.

Unfortunately, this usually has a knock-on effect on how we feel. Not only can it lead us to feeling emotionally low, upset and frustrated, it can also increase our sensitivity to pain and therefore make symptoms worse.

The group will involve a combination of discussions, psychological exercises, stretches, mindful movement, use of gym equipment and meditation.

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.

Last reviewed:15 December 2022