Core components of Pain Rehabilitation Center programs

A man standing and stretching his leg

A physical therapist demonstrates stretching exercises.

An occupational therapist and a person holding a vacuum

Occupational therapist teaches a person to work more efficiently, to reduce pain.

The Pain Rehabilitation Center programs have several core components to help people manage their pain. Some components may not be available in each program. Core components include:

  • Medication management and chemical health education. When used appropriately, medications can help reduce pain and treat other conditions, such as depression or insomnia, with limited side effects for some people.

    However, medications may not relieve chronic pain. Medications can also cause side effects that limit function, and some medications can become habit-forming. Read about prescription drug addiction.

    Staff in the PRC works with each person to eliminate the use of pain medications, and gradually reduces each person's medications. Group classes equip people with practical information on the benefits and risks of medications used in chronic pain conditions.

  • Stress management and relaxation techniques. Stress and pain are interrelated. Stress management training is designed to break the cycle between pain and stress. In classes, staff explains coping strategies such as relaxation techniques. Read more about stress management.
  • Physical therapy. Physical therapists instruct people in strengthening, stretching and aerobic conditioning. Therapists also educate people about proper body mechanics, lifting techniques, posture, aerobic exercise benefits and pain behaviors.

    During the three-week program, people perform range-of-motion exercises each morning. Later in the day, people participate in physical therapy for strength training, stretching and aerobic conditioning.

  • Occupational therapy. Occupational therapists teach people to work more efficiently to reduce pain. In the three-week program, occupational therapists help people learn to balance work, self-care and leisure activities.

    Therapists discuss topics such as balancing daily activities, completing tasks, managing time, modifying activities, using office ergonomics and return-to-work issues.

  • Recreational therapy. Recreational therapists help people incorporate leisure into their schedule. PRC participants value this time during their treatment as they are able to connect with other participants and have fun.
  • Group therapy. Group therapy sessions help people recognize and deal with negative changes and emotions, improve relationships, and manage pain more effectively.

    Group therapy combines informal discussions about how lives have been affected by chronic pain and formal lectures on several topics to help people deal effectively with pain.

  • Sleep. Chronic pain has a major impact on sleep and sleep difficulties such as insomnia that may require a lifestyle management approach.

    Sleep plays an important role in how a person manages daily activities, chronic pain and overall mood. In the PRC, staff assesses each person's quality of sleep and educates people about techniques for better sleep.

  • Biofeedback. Biofeedback therapy provides information about how body processes such as heart rate and muscle tension can be negatively affected by chronic pain. Biofeedback can help people learn to consciously increase control over these processes and maintain control during daily activities.
  • Lifestyle management. In the PRC, lifestyle decisions and habits are considered key factors in managing chronic pain.

    Staff and specialists offer people lifestyle information, assessments and individual consultations. Lifestyle changes related to nutrition, tobacco use, sleep management and substance use can help people manage pain.

    Pastoral care and vocational counseling can be arranged to further improve overall quality of life and functioning.

  • Complementary and alternative therapies. Complementary and alternative therapies to treat conditions such as chronic anxiety, pain and sleep difficulties have become more popular in recent years.

    Complementary and alternative therapies such as biofeedback and relaxation techniques may benefit some people. These therapies are important components of the PRC program. Staff will explain several therapies to people, emphasizing steps to consider in making safe and effective choices.