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Pain management programme

Who is the programme for?

The programme is for those who have chronic pain, which is pain lasting more than six months. To take part you will already have been under the care of the pain clinic, you will have been reviewed by a consultant and also have had various appointments with the clinic nurses.

The programme is recommended because there is no cure for chronic pain. It sets out to give people the knowledge and tools for their own long-term management of pain.

Many people considering a programme say pain has taken over their lives. The programme is designed to help people get their lives back; achieve their goals, get fit, lift their mood and see improvements in their relationships. If you want to achieve these things, then the pain management programme may be for you.

Our mission for patients participating in the pain management programme:

To empower patients to gain confidence, change their perspective on pain for the better and improve their participation in life.

What does the programme involve?

The programme is held on Mondays to Thursdays for three weeks – a total of 12 days – in groups of around eight people, either in person on online virtually.  

Each group is reviewed after one month, six months and a year. You are expected to attend all sessions of the programme and reviews. If you cannot attend one of your group’s review days, you will be offered a review with a different group.

The programme involves a big commitment from you. We also suggest you avoid making significant plans for the Fridays or weekends during the programme, so you can make the most of the programme.

Who runs the programme?

Psychologists lead a team of nurses, physiotherapists and occupational therapists. We do not see pain as just a physical problem. We believe it involves your thoughts, your mood, your activities and your relationships, amongst other things. That is why a range of different staff are involved to help build coping strategies in different areas of your life.

We use a set of psychology ideas called cognitive behaviour therapy. These ideas help people think differently about their problems and evolve ways to cope with them. The end result is often an improvement in mood.

The responsibilities of the clinical team on the programme include:

  • providing evidence-based approaches for self-management of chronic pain
  • treating you with respect and kindness
  • ensuring a supportive environment for you to try out new skills

The responsibilities of the participants on the programme include:

  • being open-minded
  • committing to attending all sessions
  • participating in the activities and discussions
  • trying out the strategies and skills in your everyday life

What would I do on a programme?

A typical day on the programme could involve:

09:30 Review of action plan for home practice (whole team session)

09:45 Feedback from ‘thought challenge’ (psychology-led, whole team session)

11:00 Break

11:30 Pacing (occupational therapy session)

12:30 Lunch

13:30 Relaxation (self-directed relaxation)

14:00 Trying out movement (physiotherapy session)

15:00 Finish

The thought challenge is an innovative part of this programme. It is a practical that you plan for yourself, allowing you and the team to collaborate to gather information to assess strategies for self-management of chronic pain.

The programme includes a doctor’s question and answer session. This can be very helpful for understanding pain, to discuss pain management and review any questions you may have. We will invite you to send your questions before the session.

The programme includes a friends and family day in week two. This can be very helpful and help them understand more about chronic pain, review how they can support your pain management strategies and address any questions they may have.

What happens next?

A physiotherapist, clinical psychologist and occupational therapist will assess you either in person or by telephone. The assessment will last about an hour and a half.

They will ask you questions about your pain problem and how it affects your day to day activities mentally, physically and emotionally. If they offer you a place on the programme you will have the option to take part in the video conference pain management programme or the face to face pain management programme when this is available. Alternatively, the team may suggest a different plan, such as a referral to another service. If you are not interested in taking part in the programme, please inform the clinic staff.

You will continue to be offered group reviews until the programme’s one-year review when you will be discharged because you will have been taught to manage your pain for yourself, with support from your GP.


Participants on previous programmes have given the following feedback:

  • “I feel like I’ve got the old me back”
  • “I finally understand what’s going on with my pain”
  • “I’m doing more of what I want to do”
  • “I know the right kind of exercise”
  • “I’m thinking in a more balanced way”
  • “I can do the day to day things I need to do around the house”
  • "I’ve got a plan for the months ahead”


There are no known long term risks to using pain management strategies. Taking part in the programme may lead to increased pain in the short term. This is a normal process as your body gets used to more exercise and the routine of the programme. Sitting in chairs for some of the programme can cause temporary discomfort. You may also feel upset on the programme at times, as some of the things we talk about may be emotionally challenging. You will be supported by the team in dealing with these difficulties.

Most participants say these problems are short lived and get better over the course of the programme. If you do experience more pain or distress during the programme, it is important that you tell us. Then we can work together to help you cope.


Alternatives to the pain management programme may include individual clinical psychology, physiotherapy or occupational therapy sessions through pain clinic. If you would like to consider this, please discuss it with the pain clinic team.

Privacy and dignity

We are committed to treating all patients with privacy and dignity. The confidential nature of the group sessions is discussed at the start of the programme. Conversations with staff are confidential unless it is thought that there is a risk to your own or another person’s safety. The department of pain medicine is compliant with Trust policies for patient confidentiality. If you have any concerns at any stage, please speak to a member of staff in pain clinic or to your GP.

Further information / contact details

Should you require further information please contact the Pain Management Programme Administrator:

Department of Pain Medicine,
Box 215,
Addenbrooke’s Hospital,
Hills Road,
CB2 0QQ.

Telephone number 01223 216993