Programme Details

The BACK to Health programme moves away from seeking a medical cure or reduction in pain intensity.

It focuses instead on self-management through education sessions, tailored exercises, psychological support and practical coping and problem-solving strategies.

The programme involves an initial three week residential stay, involving an exercise and educational programme with an emphasis on pacing of activities, long term self-management and personal goal planning.

It is attended and delivered by a number of professionals skilled in supporting you to make the changes you need to regain the confidence and ability to take back control of your personal situation.

BACK to Health runs each week Monday to Thursday from 9am to 5pm, with patients returning home from Friday to Sunday. Due to the residential element of the programme, patients will stay in a hotel for 3 nights during each week, the cost of which is funded by the NHS through local Clinical Commissioning Group.

The residential nature of the course allows established habits to be challenged and new habits re-established without the interference of the persons usual day to day life and commitments.

Up to ten patients can attend the group-based programme. There will be follow-up sessions with the therapists to provide support and evaluate progress after the course is completed.

Please note: There is no individual hands-on treatment and you will not see a doctor or undergo any further medical investigations.

The aim of the BACK to Health programme is to allow people with persistent pain to develop techniques and strategies to allow them to minimise the impact of their pain on their quality of life.

During the programme this will be achieved by:

  • A movement and exercise programme to improve strength, stamina, range of movement and promote resilience
  • Education into the cause and nature of persistent pain with particular emphasis on the distinction between pain and damage
  • Working on valued based goals to make a return to an active lifestyle using planning and pacing techniques
  • Cognitive therapy to understand the links between beliefs, fears, thoughts, and subsequently mood and pain, and to learn techniques of identifying  unhelpful patterns of thinking and develop effective challenges
  • Reduction in unhelpful pain related medications
  • Reduction in reliance on rest and challenging ‘boom/bust behaviour’
  • Developing a range of relaxation techniques to reduce pain and aid sleep.
  • Improving range and style of strategies to manage increases in pain.

To achieve these objectives you must:

  • Want to regain control of your life by applying self-management
  • Apply skills through individual and group activities
  • Be willing to assess your lifestyle and think about relevant and realistic adaptations in your daily activities that could help manage your pain
  • Be motivated to attend all sessions and put in the effort to achieve your goals

What can I expect the sessions to involve?

The course combines the following components:

Education: Advice on anatomy, posture, pacing activities, fitness, how the body heals, understanding the complexities of pain, lifting and handling, dealing with a flare up, relaxation, acute versus persistent pain, effects of exercise on the body and problem solving

Physical: Stretching, exercising in water, postural and strength muscle retraining, use of the fitness gym, use of the gym ball and returning to gentle recreational activity.

Coping skills: Addressing the emotional and behavioural effects of long-term pain, understanding pain, stress and anxiety, mood management, communicating with friends and family, maintaining change, relaxation and mindfulness, assertiveness and the use of goal setting to improve coping strategies

Is the programme right for me?

The BACK to Health programme treats patients with non-specific low back pain who have not responded to treatment. Patients need to be prepared to stay residential accommodation (Hotel) for three weeks (go home at weekends) and to participate in a group based programme (accommodation is provided as part of the programme).  We appreciate this may be a major commitment for you but hopefully it will change your life.

Because of the physical nature of the programme, patients must be able to perform personal care, for example, independent washing and dressing, be able to walk independently for 15 minutes or 500 metres and have good general medical health.

Before you start the three-week course, you will need to attend a half-day assessment, which gives you the opportunity to:

  • Meet the team
  • Discuss whether the programme is suitable for you
  • Have a tour of the facilities
  • Meet other people who are considering the programme
  • Discuss arrangements that may need to be considered prior to your attendance, for example, childcare, booked holidays and work

Where does the BACK to Health Programme take place?

The BACK to Health programme takes place at the Sporting Lodge Hotel, Low Lane, Stainton Village, Middlesbrough, Teesside, TS17 9LW.

How do I access the programme?

Ask your GP if you would be suitable for a referral.