Pain rehabilitation

Pain rehabilitation programs offer nondrug options for managing chronic pain. These may include physical, occupational and psychological therapy.

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Pain rehabilitation programs explore various ways to help control pain and identify factors that contribute to pain. These programs are generally intended for individuals who have experienced a significant decline in daily functioning and quality of life as a result of chronic pain.

In most pain rehabilitation programs, a pain professional, pain psychologist and other specialists work together as an interdisciplinary team.

They incorporate cognitive behavioral therapy techniques to help identify and replace negative thoughts and unhealthy behaviors. This can help you get back to your regular activities and improve your quality of life.

The program might also include physical therapy, occupational therapy, biofeedback, relaxation techniques, stress management and complementary medicine.

Physical therapy

Physical therapy focuses on reducing pain through a regular exercise program that incorporates flexibility, aerobic and strengthening exercises. Physical therapy is primarily based on proper body mechanics — using muscles and joints correctly to limit pain.

Even when you have pain, movement is important. In fact, movement helps speed recovery and might even help prevent acute pain from becoming chronic pain.

Physical therapists can tailor an exercise program to your individual condition and goals. They may also employ nonexercise treatments, such as ultrasound, heat or ice therapy, and massage. Braces, splints and assistive devices also might help.

Occupational therapy

Pain can keep you from taking part in your normal activities, including going to work or having fun with family or friends. Occupational therapy helps provide skills and strategies to help manage pain, so it interferes less with daily life — allowing you to engage in your life even if full pain relief isn't possible.

Occupational therapists may suggest using assistive tools, such as a walking cane or a jar opener, to help compensate for skills that may be impaired by your pain or disability. Sometimes the work or home environment can be changed to make tasks easier.

Changing your mindset

Psychological counselors often can help you view your pain in a different way, which can help you develop better coping skills so that you can feel more in control of your situation.

Tension and stress can exacerbate your pain, so relaxation techniques such as meditation and guided imagery may be useful.

Support groups, either online or in person, provide access to people who are facing similar situations so that you can share concerns and coping strategies. While there is no cure for many forms of chronic pain, you can learn ways to participate more fully in life despite your pain.

Vivien Williams: 50 million. That's how many people in the U.S. suffer from chronic pain. Many turn to opioid painkillers for relief.

Mike Hooten, M.D. (Anesthesiology, Mayo Clinic): The evidence is not all that clear about the efficacy of those drugs long-term for chronic pain.

Vivien Williams: Mayo Clinic pain management specialist Dr. Mike Hooten says what is clear about these painkillers is the risk associated with taking them.

Mike Hooten, M.D.: The problems of addiction, but a related problem of accidental overdose deaths.

Vivien Williams: Morphine, oxycodone and hydrocodone are commonly prescribed opioids. Dr. Hooten says they are very effective when used short-term for pain, for example, after a surgery. For long-term use …

Mike Hooten, M.D.: There are a small group of studies that may show some benefit in in certain highly select groups of patients.

Vivien Williams: But, for many cases of chronic pain, Dr. Hooten says non-opioid pain relievers combined with other therapies, such as stress management can help people manage pain and maintain a high quality of life. For the Mayo Clinic News Network, I'm Vivien Williams.

Vivien Williams: Opioid painkiller addiction can destroy lives. The CDC reports that in 2014, 2 million Americans abused or were dependent on painkillers, such as hydrocodone, oxycodone and methadone.

Mike Hooten, M.D. (Anesthesiology, Mayo Clinic): The most important first step is recognizing you have a problem.

Vivien Williams: Mayo Clinic pain management specialist Dr. Mike Hooten says the second step is to talk to the doctor who prescribed the medication.

Michael Hooten, M.D.: The medication, under medical direction, can be gradually tapered and then at the same time, other pain therapies can be introduced if needed. And, finally, you need to be referred to the appropriate addiction specialist.

Vivien Williams: Dr. Hooten says breaking free from opioids is not easy. But, unlike alcohol withdrawal, which can be life threatening, …

Michael Hooten, M.D.: Acute opioid withdrawal is a non-lethal syndrome. It's very, very uncomfortable, but not necessarily associated with death.

Vivien Williams: Every day 78 people die from an opioid overdose. Experts urge anyone who is addicted to get help. It can save your life. For the Mayo Clinic News network, I'm Vivien Williams.

July 02, 2019

See also

  1. A Pain-Free Thumbs Up!
  2. Achilles tendon rupture
  3. Acid reflux and GERD
  4. ACL injury
  5. Acupuncture for back pain?
  6. Acute coronary syndrome
  7. Acute myelogenous leukemia
  8. Airplane ear
  9. Anal cancer
  10. Anal itching
  11. Ankylosing spondylitis
  12. Ankylosing spondylitis: Am I at risk of osteoporosis?
  13. Ankylosing spondylitis: Eat well for bone health
  14. Ankylosing spondylitis: Exercising safely
  15. Ankylosing spondylitis: Reduce your risk of falling
  16. Ankylosing spondylitis: Understand your treatment options
  17. Appendicitis
  18. Arthritis creams
  19. Avascular necrosis
  20. Back pain
  21. Infographic: Back Pain
  22. Back pain relief: Ergonomic chair or fitness ball?
  23. Banish back pain
  24. Base tan? Bad idea
  25. Bee sting
  26. Bell's palsy
  27. Bipolar disorder
  28. Bipolar disorder and alcoholism: Are they related?
  29. Bipolar in children
  30. Bipolar medications and weight gain
  31. Bipolar treatment: I vs. II
  32. Blood tests for heart disease
  33. 4 Ways to Prevent Heart Attack
  34. Fact or Fiction? Debunking Exercise & Nutrition Myths for Preventing Heart Disease and Risk Factors
  35. Healthy Heart Numbers
  36. Heart disease in women
  37. Mayo Clinic - Holiday Heart Attack and Stroke Risk
  38. Sports Cardiology Program
  39. Broken collarbone
  40. Broken hand
  41. Broken nose
  42. Broken ribs
  43. Bunions
  44. Burns
  45. Bursitis
  46. Calcium supplements: A risk factor for heart attack?
  47. Can vitamins help prevent a heart attack?
  48. Cardiogenic shock
  49. Cellulitis
  50. Cellulitis: How to prevent recurrent episodes
  51. Cellulitis infection: Is it contagious?
  52. Cervical spondylosis
  53. Chagas disease
  54. Chelation therapy for heart disease: Does it work?
  55. Chest pain
  56. Chronic daily headaches
  57. Chronic pelvic pain in women
  58. Chronic sinusitis
  59. Cluster headache
  60. Collecting Pennies Through the Pain
  61. Complex regional pain syndrome
  62. Contact dermatitis
  63. Control your portions, control your weight
  64. Costochondritis
  65. Cough headaches
  66. Cupping therapy: Can it relieve fibromyalgia pain?
  67. Cyclothymia (cyclothymic disorder)
  68. Daily aspirin therapy
  69. De Quervain's tenosynovitis
  70. Degenerative changes in the spine: Is this arthritis?
  71. Diffuse idiopathic skeletal hyperostosis (DISH)
  72. Diphtheria
  73. Disk replacement
  74. Diverticulitis
  75. Epidural steroid injections: Why limited dosing?
  76. Ewing sarcoma
  77. Factor V Leiden
  78. Fasting diet: Can it improve my heart health?
  79. Fibromyalgia
  80. Fibromyalgia or not?
  81. Fibromyalgia and acupuncture
  82. Fibromyalgia: Does exercise help or hurt?
  83. Fibromyalgia: Linked to other health problems?
  84. Fibromyalgia pain: Options for coping
  85. Fibromyalgia: Self-care tips
  86. Fibromyalgia and Neurontin
  87. Flu Shot Prevents Heart Attack
  88. Flu shots and heart disease
  89. Folliculitis
  90. Football Spinal Cord Injury - The Chris Norton Story
  91. Frostbite
  92. Gaucher disease
  93. Genital herpes
  94. Genital herpes: Can you get it from a toilet seat?
  95. Geographic tongue
  96. Getting active after acute coronary syndrome
  97. Giant cell arteritis
  98. Glucosamine: Does it affect blood sugar?
  99. Glucosamine: Does it protect cartilage in osteoarthritis?
  100. Golf and Wrist Pain
  101. Grass-fed beef
  102. Greenstick fractures
  103. Growth plate fractures
  104. Hammertoe and mallet toe
  105. Headaches 101: Know your type
  106. Headaches and hormones
  107. Headaches: Treatment depends on your diagnosis and symptoms
  108. Healthy eating: One step at a time
  109. Healthy Heart for Life!
  110. Healthy heart for life: Avoiding heart disease
  111. Heart attack
  112. Heart attack prevention: Should I avoid secondhand smoke?
  113. Heart attack symptoms
  114. Heart Attack Timing
  115. Heart disease
  116. Heart disease in women: Understand symptoms and risk factors
  117. Heart-healthy diet: 8 steps to prevent heart disease
  118. Slide show: Heart-healthy eating after acute coronary syndrome
  119. Heartburn
  120. Heartburn or chest pain?
  121. Hemophilia
  122. Hernia truss: Can it help an inguinal hernia?
  123. High potassium (hyperkalemia)
  124. Hives and angioedema
  125. How do ankylosing spondylitis and pregnancy affect each other?
  126. Ice cream headaches
  127. Impacted wisdom teeth
  128. Ingrown hair
  129. Inguinal hernia
  130. Intervention: Help a loved one overcome addiction
  131. Inversion therapy: Can it relieve back pain?
  132. Is fibromyalgia hereditary?
  133. Is your lifestyle causing heartburn?
  134. Jellyfish stings
  135. Keratitis
  136. Kidney infection
  137. Knee bursitis
  138. Preventing lead exposure
  139. Lead poisoning
  140. Living better with ankylosing spondylitis
  141. Lyme disease
  142. Mayo Clinic Minute - Health Precautions You Need to Know About Pedicures
  143. Mayo Clinic Minute: Restless legs syndrome in kids
  144. Mayo Clinic Minute: Why the risk of frostbite is greater than you think
  145. Mayo Clinic Minute: Will there be a Lyme disease vaccine for humans?
  146. Menstrual cramps
  147. Mental health: Overcoming the stigma of mental illness
  148. Mental health providers: Tips on finding one
  149. Mental illness
  150. Menus for heart-healthy eating
  151. Mittelschmerz
  152. Mumps
  153. Myelofibrosis
  154. Myelofibrosis
  155. Myofascial release therapy: Can it relieve back pain?
  156. Nail fungus
  157. Neurofibromatosis
  158. Nighttime headaches: Relief
  159. NSAIDs: Do they increase my risk of heart attack and stroke?
  160. Nuts and your heart: Eating nuts for heart health
  161. Omega-3 in fish
  162. Omega-6 fatty acids
  163. Opioids and arthritis
  164. Oral lichen planus
  165. Oral thrush
  166. Osteoarthritis
  167. Osteochondritis dissecans
  168. Osteomalacia
  169. Osteomyelitis
  170. Pain Management
  171. Painful intercourse (dyspareunia)
  172. Patellofemoral pain syndrome
  173. Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)
  174. Periodontitis
  175. Phantom pain
  176. Pilonidal cyst
  177. Pinched nerve
  178. Plantar fasciitis
  179. Plantar warts
  180. Polymyalgia rheumatica
  181. Polypill: Does it treat heart disease?
  182. Postherpetic neuralgia
  183. Postpartum thyroiditis
  184. Priapism
  185. Protein: Heart-healthy sources
  186. Pseudoclaudication: Is it related to claudication?
  187. Put fish on the menu
  188. Ramsay Hunt syndrome
  189. Mayo Clinic Minute: Rattlesnakes, scorpions and other desert dangers
  190. Reactive arthritis
  191. Red wine, antioxidants and resveratrol
  192. Restless legs syndrome
  193. Rickets
  194. Ruptured spleen
  195. Sacroiliitis
  196. Savella may help fatigue
  197. Sciatica
  198. Scorpion sting
  199. Scrotal masses
  200. Shave better to reduce ingrown hairs
  201. Shingles
  202. Shingles and alcohol
  203. Shingles vaccine: Can I transmit the vaccine virus to others?
  204. Shingles vaccine: Should I get it?
  205. Silent heart attack
  206. Simple tips for staying active and mobile with osteoarthritis
  207. Sinus headaches
  208. Causes of back pain
  209. Sleeping positions that reduce back pain
  210. Sodium: Smarten up
  211. Somatic symptom disorder
  212. Spider bites
  213. Spinal cord injury
  214. Spinal stenosis
  215. Sprains
  216. Heart disease prevention
  217. Stress and headaches: Stop the cycle
  218. Stress fractures
  219. Sun allergy
  220. Sunburn
  221. Sunburn treatment: Do I need medical attention?
  222. Swimmer's ear
  223. Syringomyelia
  224. Tanning: Does a base tan prevent sunburn?
  225. Tarlov cysts: A cause of low back pain?
  226. Tendinitis
  227. Tendinitis pain: Should I apply ice or heat?
  228. Infographic: The blueprints to your heart
  229. Integrative approaches to treating pain
  230. Lifestyle strategies for pain management
  231. Nutrition and pain
  232. Self-care approaches to treating pain
  233. Treating pain: Conventional medical care
  234. Treating pain: Overview
  235. Understanding pain
  236. Thumb arthritis
  237. Thumb Reconstruction
  238. Thunderclap headaches
  239. Transverse myelitis
  240. Trigeminal neuralgia
  241. Ulcerative colitis
  242. Ulcerative colitis flare-ups: 5 tips to manage them
  243. Varicocele
  244. Video: Allergy or irritant: The truth about your rash
  245. Arthroscopic knee surgery
  246. Video: Heart and circulatory system
  247. Heartburn and hiatal hernia
  248. Can having vitamin D deficiency cause high blood pressure?
  249. Vulvar cancer
  250. West Nile virus
  251. What is meant by the term heart age?
  252. Wisdom teeth removal: When is it necessary?
  253. Infographic: Women and Heart Disease
  254. Wrist pain