Understanding Pain Program

Understanding Pain 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 Understanding Pain 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 Understanding Pain program consists of eight online videos found below. Each video 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 include: activity and pacing; relaxation and meditation; sleep; nutrition; pharmacology and addiction; and working with behavior, thoughts and emotions. Many of the videos 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 program is to teach you the things you need to know to take control of your pain.

Understanding Pain Videos

  • Session 1: How Pain Works
    Understand the Neuroscience behind Pain, how safety and danger play a role in how we experience pain, and the brain’s ability to reorganize and adapt by forming new connections.
  • Session 2: Coping and Management
    A continuation of current pain science, as well as the importance of self-directed neurobehavioral change. You will learn active coping strategies for dealing with pain.
  • Session 3: Physical Reconditioning with Pain
    Learn the importance of stretching, aerobic and weight bearing exercise, pacing and the rule of 2, and assurance of safety in movement with trained professionals.
  • Session 4: Stress and Pain
    Learn the interaction of the stress response and pain, how to work with and decrease stress, the mind/body interaction and impact of stress over time, and the newest research on stress appraisal.
  • Session 5: Nutrition and Sleep with Pain
    Understand the interaction between pain and sleep and learn good sleep practices. General nutritional recommendations are made for inflammation and pain.
  • Session 6: Medications
    Understand the types of medications we can use to treat pain, and interactions between them.
  • Session 7: Thoughts and Beliefs about Pain
    Recognize common thoughts and fears about pain and how to work with them directly.
  • Session 8: Emotion and Pain
    Understand how strong affect can influence pain, how to befriend and welcome your emotions, and how suppression of emotion can actually increase pain.

More Information

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. 

Yes! But we don’t expect you to take our word for it. The Understanding Pain 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 this 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 graduates tell us that the Understanding Pain 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 this 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. 

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 Understanding Pain program. If you are enrolled in physical therapy, we encourage you to attend physical therapy at least once each week. If you work with the physical therapists at St. Patrick Hospital, 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 Understanding Pain program so that your 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.