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Pain School Information

Pain does more than just hurt.
It distracts us from our goals and from living our lives in a manner that is consistent with our values. It hijacks our energy and motivation. It causes problems in our relationships. It can be demoralizing, embarrassing, shaming, and humiliating. It can make us feel very alone and helpless.

Is it possible to live a rich and full life despite persistent pain?
Yes! But we don’t expect you to take our word for it. The Pain School program at the Montana Spine & Pain Center will help you answer this question for yourself. The good news about chronic pain is that the greatest benefit comes from the things you do to help yourself – and that you can learn to do these things. In the Pain School program you will learn pain-related coping, management, and pain reduction skills and strategies which are firmly based in the best contemporary scientific research and which have worked well for others – and you will learn how to integrate these skills and strategies into your everyday life.

Many Pain School graduates tell us that the Pain School program has been very helpful to them, and not just with regard to learning new strategies for managing chronic pain, but also by providing the opportunity for them to make contact with and exchange ideas with other people who are struggling with similar problems.

In the Pain School program you will learn to take charge of your pain and your life, so that pain is no longer in charge of you and your life.

What is Pain School?
Pain School is a Health and Behavior Intervention program designed to assist people who are living with persistent pain to learn strategies for living more successfully with and despite their pain. The information and pain management strategies taught and demonstrated in the Pain School program are firmly rooted in current scientific research and can be helpful in reducing your baseline level of pain, in significantly reducing the frequency of and interference you may experience in your life from periodic pain flare-ups, and in increasing your ability to engage in the kinds of physical activities which once gave your life meaning but which may have fallen to the wayside because of your pain.

The full Pain School program consists of 11 once weekly group meetings consisting of an initial introductory 3-week sequence of once weekly 1-hour meetings followed by an 8-week sequence of 2-hour meetings which include a break to get up and move around midway through the meeting. Each meeting focuses on a specific topic that is relevant to reducing pain and to living a satisfying life despite persistent pain. Some of the topics addressed in the Pain School program include: activity and pacing, relaxation and meditation, sleep, nutrition, pharmacology and addiction, and working with behavior, thoughts and emotions. Many of the meetings include some guided practice in relaxation and meditation techniques as well as encouragement and coaching with regard to the development of functional goals and related action plans. The goal of Pain School is to teach you the things you need to know to take control of your pain.

What about Physical Therapy?
A very important pain management strategy is that of remaining, or in some cases, becoming, physically active. Physical activity is vital to managing pain and to improving function. We encourage you to enroll in physical therapy or, if you have recently completed a course of physical therapy, to participate in some other form of regular physical activity such as working out at a gym, Tai Chi, yoga, etc. while you are involved in the Pain School program. If you are enrolled in physical therapy during Pain School we encourage you to attend physical therapy at least once each week. If you work with the physical therapists at St. Pat’s, every effort will be made to provide you with a physical therapy experience which is individualized to meet your unique needs and to fit your schedule.

We also encourage you to let your physical therapist know what you have been learning in the Pain School program so that your Pain School lessons can be integrated into your work with your physical therapist. If you are already in physical therapy, please feel free to continue with your current physical therapist. The goal of physical therapy is to help you develop a life-long activity program that you will continue even when you have completed the formal physical therapy program.

How Do I Sign Up?
Ask your provider at the Montana Spine & Pain Center to refer you to the Pain School program, or, if you are not currently a patient of the Montana Spine and Pain Center ask your primary care provider to refer you to the Montana Spine and Pain Center to participate in the Pain School Program.

When and When Does the Pain School Meet?
The 3-session introductory Pain School program current meets over the course of the first 3 Tuesdays and Thursdays of each month. The Tuesday program meets at 11am and the Thursday program meets at 4pm. Typically a patient would only attend the Tuesday program or the Thursday program but not both.

The 8-session comprehensive Pain School program currently meets on an ongoing basis every Thursday morning from 10:00am – Noon. The front office staff or your Montana Spine and Pain Center provider can provide you with a current schedule detailing which topics are being addressed at which meetings over the course of the next couple of months.

Make a Commitment Now to Pursue a Better Quality of Life!
If you choose to attend Pain School, and we hope that you will, we invite you make a commitment to yourself and to the other Pain School participants to do the work that is necessary for your health and functioning to improve by changing the nature of your relationship to your pain. We will show you the way, but we can only do this if you attend. We encourage and invite you to make a personal commitment to yourself to attend the full Pain School program.

Montana Spine & Pain Center
Saint Patrick Hospital and Health Sciences Center
500 West Broadway, Missoula, Montana 59802