Frequently asked questions

By Mayo Clinic Staff

How do I know if pain rehabilitation is right for me?

Candidates for admission to the Pain Rehabilitation Center (PRC) have chronic pain as a major health problem and have generally experienced a significant decline in functional abilities and quality of life due to their pain.

Your local health care provider can assess whether pain rehabilitation may be an option for you and refer you to the program, if you're interested.

To assess your readiness for pain rehabilitation, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is my life focused on pain and what I am not able to do, rather than what I am able to do in spite of the pain?
  • Are my doctors telling me they can do nothing further to relieve the pain? Do they tell me I need to get on with my life?
  • Am I truly concerned about the long-term effects of taking pain medications?
  • Is my family's well-being affected by my chronic pain?
  • Is my recovery from injury or illness taking much longer than my doctors or I expected?
  • Am I unable to commit to social events with family or friends because my pain level may be higher that day?
  • Is my mood affected by pain and the activities I am not able to do?

A "yes" answer to any of these questions may indicate that pain rehabilitation is appropriate.

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How can I prepare myself for the PRC program?

Pain rehabilitation can be a challenging process that requires a serious commitment toward making changes for your pain management, health, life and family. Completing the items on the following checklist will help you be prepared to participate in the PRC program:

  • I understand that the PRC focuses on coping with pain and does not include procedures to fix my pain.
  • I am willing to wean off of my narcotic medications such as opioid pain medicines, and understand that other medication use may also be addressed, particularly use of benzodiazepines, muscle relaxants, stimulants and medications for sleep.
  • I understand that I will be expected to participate in all activities, including physical therapy and group education classes, every day.
  • I am willing to be at the PRC promptly at 7:45 a.m. and stay until 4:45 p.m. every day while I am in the program.
  • If I need any help with self-care, such as going to the bathroom or getting from room to room, I will bring someone with me to help me.

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Should I attend the three-week program or two-day program?

During the evaluation process, Pain Rehabilitation Center staff will help you determine which program may be most beneficial to you.

Those who are unable to manage activities of daily life or whose moods are significantly affected by chronic pain may be candidates for the three-week program. The three-week program offers features such as physical and occupational therapy, ongoing reinforcement and support. The two-day program doesn't offer these features.

Those whose lives are affected by pain to a lesser degree may be candidates for the two-day program. During this brief program, pain rehabilitation concepts are presented, and a plan is developed for each person to make changes in his or her daily life to manage chronic pain.

The two-day program is also an option for those who can't commit to three weeks because of time limitations or financial concerns.

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Should my family stay with me? Can my family participate in group sessions?

To maintain the confidentiality of all people in the program, your family members and friends can't attend group sessions during the three-week program.

However, a family program for your family and friends is offered every week during the adult three-week program.

If your family members or friends aren't able to attend the family group programs, your nurse care coordinator can schedule phone conferences (with your permission) to discuss ways they can support your ongoing rehabilitation progress.

During the two-day program, family members and friends are encouraged to attend and participate in family group sessions to learn ways to help you manage chronic symptoms.

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Does insurance cover this program?

After the initial evaluation, a tentative admission date may be scheduled for one of the programs. A representative from Patient Account Services will contact your insurance carrier for you, as many health insurance plans require approval prior to admission.

The insurance predetermination process varies from a few days to six weeks, depending on the insurance plan.

If insurance doesn't cover the program, a pre-service deposit is required prior to entering the program. For questions about insurance issues or approval status, contact Patient Account Services at 800-660-4582 (toll-free).

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How much does the program cost?

Many insurance programs cover most or all of the program cost. If insurance coverage isn't available, you can determine cost by contacting Mayo Clinic Estimating Services at 507-284-4024.

Families whose children are attending the pediatric program may want to budget for costs associated with evening and weekend activities.

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Are weeknights and weekends on my own?

Adolescents attending the pediatric program in the Pain Rehabilitation Center are strongly encouraged to participate in social activities during the week and on the weekends to aid in the recovery process. Most of the adolescent patients served find this to be an invaluable experience while they are in the PRC.

Socialization is often an essential aspect toward return to full functioning and increased quality of life. Typical activities may include visiting an ice cream parlor, having a board game night, having group dinners, going rock climbing, bowling, going to movies or shopping.

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Can I make an appointment myself?

Because people with chronic pain generally have complicated medical issues, the PRC requires that people be referred by a medical health care professional.

From background information obtained through a health care professional, PRC staff can determine if Mayo's rehabilitation approach may benefit you.

See resources for physicians for more information.

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I'm not sure that I can handle a full-day program. Can I participate for just half days?

You are expected to participate in the entire program. Although some people initially doubt their physical ability to stay involved full time, most people complete the program, even if they were deconditioned at the beginning.

Each person in the program is assigned a nurse care coordinator who is available for support, as needed.

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Where should I stay in Rochester?

You'll need to arrange for your own lodging. Rochester, Minnesota, offers many lodging options. Some hotels have weekly or monthly rates. Most provide shuttle service to the Generose Building. Learn more about lodging options in Rochester.

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What should I bring?

Bring a personal CD player to the hotel. You'll receive relaxation CDs to listen to in the evenings.

You should also bring all your current medications in the original containers, when possible. Nursing and pharmacy staff will review your medications at admission and, after the treatment team meets to discuss your situation, develop a plan for medication management.

If you're in the pediatric program, you're encouraged to bring homework for school or a book to read in the evening.

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What should I wear?

Your clothing should be comfortable, casual and appropriate for exercise and active periods during the day.

Considering Minnesota's weather variations, you may choose to wear layers of clothing for comfort. Staff recommends that you wear tennis shoes or comfortable walking shoes as you will be performing daily physical activities.

Once a week, adult and pediatric patients have the opportunity to dress up, as if they were going to work, school or to a social event. Pediatric patients generally like to dress up for the last day of the program as well.

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Are meals served?

Meals aren't provided. An hour is set aside daily for lunch. You should bring or purchase your own lunch. You will have access to a small kitchen for storing your lunch.

Mayo Clinic Hospital — Saint Marys Campus patient cafeteria and the Generose Express deli sell various food selections.

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How do I find the center?

The Pain Rehabilitation Center is located on the main floor of the Generose Building at Mayo Clinic Hospital — Saint Marys Campus.

Learn more about traveling to Mayo Clinic's campus in Minnesota and maps of Mayo Clinic's campus in Minnesota.

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July 25, 2015