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Client information sheet (back pain management programme)

Patient information A-Z

Information sheet

The aim of the programme

The Back Pain Management Programme is for those with persistent spinal pain, whether that is in the neck or down in the lower back. We also accept those with more widespread pain conditions such as fibromyalgia and rheumatoid arthritis, providing pain in the neck or back is your biggest concern. The programme aims to reduce the disability and distress caused by your chronic pain, improve your quality of life and help you feel more in control of your pain. There is no 'hands on' physical or passive treatment during the programme. The programme does not aim to cure the pain but rather help you manage your pain better, in the long-term.

The programme

The programme is run for three weeks in the Physiotherapy Department at Addenbrookes Hospital, Monday to Thursday (09:30 to 15:30). You can either come in from home on a daily basis, or free self-catering accommodation can be provided at the hospital site. Throughout the programme you will work in a group, and will be encouraged to participate as fully as possible in order to achieve the most out of the course. You may experience increased pain during the programme due to a change in your daily routine, however, the team will be able to guide you through this. Food is not provided for patients on the programme, however, you are welcome to bring your own packed lunch or use any of the convenience stores or food outlets.


There are certain criteria that would mean someone may not be at the right time to commence the back pain programme, these include;

If you cannot commit to the full schedule as mentioned earlier.

If you are awaiting further medical investigations or tests in relation to your pain,

If you are awaiting further invasive medical procedures be that injections or surgery in relation to your pain,

If your greatest pain concerns are outside of the back or neck.

The pre assessment appointment

Before being given a start date for the programme you will have a pre-assessment appointment with the team (Physiotherapist, Occupational Therapist & Clinical Psychologist) to ensure that the programme is suitable for you. Hopefully we would be happy for you to commence a programme, but we may feel that another approach is more suitable or that you are not ready for the programme at the time. Therefore you may not be accepted onto the programme, but we would discuss an alternative plan with you.

If you cannot attend a pre assessment appointment for any reason, please contact pain clinic on 01223 596476 to cancel/ reschedule the appointment. Please note that if you do not attend your appointment without informing Pain Clinic then you will be automatically discharged back to the referrer and will need to be re-referred, which can result in a significant wait.

Education & Discussion Sessions

These occur every morning and are led by various team members (physiotherapist, occupational therapist, consultant psychologist). The sessions cover topics including; debunking many myths around movement with back pain, flare-up planning, why pain is more than just tissue and your brain, pacing and lifestyle management, goal setting, sleep strategies, how our thoughts, feelings, emotions and pain can influence each other and the impact they can all have on our day-to-day life. As well as helping others better understand what it is like living with persistent pain and maintaining change for the future. There will also be a talk by a dietician and pain clinic nurse. Every morning usually ends with a relaxation session prior to lunch.

Gym & Hydrotherapy Sessions

These occur on most afternoons, this time is for you to experiment with movement and discover elements of exercise that you find most enjoyable and successful doing. You can go at your own pace and there is no pressure to do anything you don’t feel confident doing. It is not necessary to be able to swim in order to benefit from this. Don't forget to bring a swimming costume and clothes you are happy to exercise in.

Friends and family day

There is an open day when you can bring a relative or friend. This is usually on the Monday of week three of the programme. It will give them an opportunity to discuss your goals, to gain insight into the programme, and enable them to help provide support to you in the changes you have made in your lifestyle.


You are expected to bring any medication you are taking with you.

After The Programme

After you have finished the programme there are group reviews with the therapy staff at one month, six months and one year after the programme. The aims of these appointments will be to review your progress or address any difficulties you are facing with regards to the programme. On average, a year after completing the programme patients report; less fear of movement, increased physical ability, lower levels of anxiety and depression and greater achievement of personal goals. Though the extent of these changes is variable to each individual.

If you have any further queries you can contact the staff concerned in the Physiotherapy Department on 01223 216633 or programme administrator on 01223 596476.

If, for any reason, you believe that the programme is not suitable for you, please liaise with your referrer and cancel your pre-assessment appointment if already booked.

We are smoke-free

Smoking is not allowed anywhere on the hospital campus. For advice and support in quitting, contact your GP or the free NHS stop smoking helpline on 0800 169 0 169.

Other formats

Help accessing this information in other formats is available. To find out more about the services we provide, please visit our patient information help page (see link below) or telephone 01223 256998.

Contact us

Cambridge University Hospitals
NHS Foundation Trust
Hills Road, Cambridge

Telephone +44 (0)1223 245151