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 typically experienced a significant decline in functional abilities and quality of life due to their pain. Pain rehabilitation can be a challenging process that requires a serious commitment toward making changes for your pain management, health, life and family. Your primary medical doctor or mental health professional can assess whether pain rehabilitation might be an option for you and refer you to the program, if you are 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 not able 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.

What is the success rate?
Success in the PRC program depends on a patient's commitment and hard work toward individualized goals in the self-management of chronic pain. Here are a few outcomes-based statistics:

  • Eighty-five percent of patients who begin the three-week program complete it.
  • Of patients who completed the program in the last three years, 57 percent were taking opioid medications, some at high doses, when they began the program. At discharge, only 3.8 percent remained on opioids, meaning that more than 96 percent of these patients discontinued pain medications.
  • Nearly 93 percent of patients increased aerobic activity levels, with 75 percent experiencing an increase of 50 percent or more.
  • Although treatment focuses on overall functioning and quality of life, rather than pain, more than 70 percent of patients noted a decrease in pain severity.
  • At completion, more than 85 percent of patients reported that pain interfered less in their daily life.
  • Almost 84 percent of patients experienced greater control over pain.
  • Approximately 79 percent of patients experienced a decrease in depressive symptoms at completion.
  • Nearly 81 percent had increased energy levels.

See treatment outcomes for more information.

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 might be most beneficial to you. Generally, those who are unable to manage activities of daily life or whose mood is significantly impacted by chronic pain are good candidates for the three-week program. Features of that program that are not offered during the two-day program include physical and occupational therapy and ongoing reinforcement and support. Those whose lives are affected by pain to a lesser degree are good candidates for the two-day program. During this brief program, pain rehabilitation concepts are presented, and a plan is developed for each patient to make changes in daily life in order to manage chronic pain. The two-day program is also an option for those who cannot commit to three weeks because of time limitations or financial concerns.

Should my family stay with me? Can my family participate in group sessions?
Chronic pain affects the whole family, not just the person in pain. Others affected might include a spouse, partner, sibling, parent, children or those involved in a caring relationship. Often, activities of daily life are altered to accommodate the person in pain. The result is additional responsibilities for others. Problems can arise, including financial strain, miscommunication, resentment, confusion and isolation.

To maintain the confidentiality of all patients, family members/friends cannot attend group sessions during the three-week program. However, a Family Program is offered on Thursdays and Fridays for family members and friends. When family members or friends cannot attend the family group programming, the patient's nurse care coordinator can schedule phone conferences (with the patient's permission) to discuss ways to support the patient's ongoing rehabilitation progress.

During the two-day program, family members and friends are encouraged to attend. Participation in family group session indicates a willingness to learn how to help the patient manage chronic symptoms better.

Does insurance cover this program?
After the initial evaluation, a tentative admission date is scheduled to one of the programs. A representative from Mayo Clinic Patient Financial 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. Ninety-two percent of patients are approved for coverage by their insurance programs. If insurance does not cover the program, a pre-service deposit is required prior to entering the program. For questions about insurance issues or approval status, contact a Mayo financial representative at 507-266-9753.

How much does the program cost?
Many insurance programs cover most or all of the program cost. If insurance coverage is not applicable, you can determine cost by contacting Mayo Clinic Estimating at
507-284-4024.

Can I make an appointment myself?
Because patients with chronic pain typically have complicated medical problems, the PRC prefers that patients be referred by a medical provider (for example, primary doctor, psychiatrist, psychologist, or rehabilitation counselor). From background information obtained through a provider, staff can determine if Mayo's rehabilitation approach might benefit the patient. Please see Information for Referring Providers for details regarding this process.

I'm not sure that I can handle a full-day program. Can I participate just half-days?
Patients are expected to participate in the entire program. Although some patients initially doubt their physical ability to stay involved full time, the vast majority (85 percent) complete the program, even if they were very deconditioned at the beginning. Each patient is assigned a nurse care coordinator who is available for support, as needed.

Where should I stay in Rochester?
Patients arrange for lodging. A brochure about staying in Rochester is available at the front desk of the Pain Rehabilitation Center. Mayo's lodging Web page offers many lodging options. Some hotels have weekly or monthly rates. Most provide shuttle service to the Generose Building.

What should I bring?
Bring a personal CD player to the hotel. You will receive relaxation CDs to listen to in the evenings. Patients should also arrive with all current medications in the original containers, when possible. Nursing and pharmacy staff will review medications at admission and, after the treatment team meets to discuss the patient's situation, plan for continued use.

What should I wear?
Clothing should be comfortable, casual and appropriate for exercise and the more active portions of the day. Considering Minnesota's weather variations, for comfort, many patients choose layers of clothing. Tennis shoes or comfortable walking shoes are recommended.

Are meals served?
Meals are not provided. An hour is set aside daily for lunch, and a full kitchen is available. Patients should bring or purchase lunch. In the three-week program, patients can choose to purchase hot, cold and vegetarian selections. Also, the Mayo Clinic Hospital, Saint Marys Campus, patient cafeteria and the Generose Express deli sell various food selections.

How do I find the center?
The Pain Rehabilitation Center is on the second floor of the Generose Building on the Saint Marys Campus. See Traveling to Mayo Clinic and Maps to Mayo Clinic Facilities for information about getting to the Mayo Clinic campus and the PRC.