Pain Health Coach
How Does Pain Health Coaching Help?
By Emily Ness
Gain the life you love with pain health coaching from the Minnesota Head, Neck, and Pain Clinic.
It takes courage and a strategic plan to defeat chronic pain. Our professional staff and healthcare coaches understand the trenches of chronic pain. A pain health coach empathizes with people suffering from pain and is passionate about helping them thrive despite the pain and lessen its impact. We will walk beside you as you discover your own courage and path to recovery.
What is a Pain Health Coach?
A pain health coach assists in preventive care for pain issues and avoiding possible addiction during pain treatment. They are compassionate and relatable professionally trained individuals in personal wellness coaching.
A Health and Wellness Coach is defined by the National Institute of Health as “A patient-centered approach wherein patients at least partially determine their goals, use self-discovery or active learning processes together with content education to work toward their goals, and self-monitor behaviors to increase accountability, all within the context of an interpersonal relationship with a coach. The coach is a healthcare professional trained in behavior change theory, motivational strategies, and communication techniques, which are used to assist patients to develop intrinsic motivation and obtain skills to create sustainable change for improved health and well-being.” 
Pain patients can gain a sense of empowerment through self-efficacy. The health coach’s role is to enhance traditional education and boost patient engagement with their pain treatment plan through positive, professional support. The benefits of working with a personal coach include increased treatment adherence and decreased pain care costs.
Minnesota Head & Neck Pain Clinics can partner with you to create positive change for a more pain-free life.
Our pain management program is strong – like you!
People who suffer from ongoing pain can end up feeling overwhelmed and exhausted. We know this means that making decisions can become challenging. Health coaching provides support and motivation. Pain-management coaching is an evidence-based approach to pain recovery that gives you the strategies and support to minimize the life-crushing impact of chronic pain. Pain-management coaching offers encouragement and hope while empowering you to take action and giving you the confidence to know what to do. The sooner you reach out for help, the better, and your chances are to avoid the pitfalls of chronic pain.
Our experts understand what it’s like to experience pain-related anxiety and avoidance of physical activity due to the development of musculoskeletal pain.
In 2021, Brigham and Women’s Hospital researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that “approximately 50 million U.S. adults—one in five—experience chronic pain”. The April 11,2022, One in five American adults experience chronic pain article takes an in-depth look at patients with chronic pain. Author Jason Young, when studying the bigger picture, expressed some surprise at the large-scale presence of chronic pain in the US. If you are missing work or experience limitations to your engagement in social activities and activities of daily living activities due to pain, we can help.
Who is a Good Candidate for Pain Health Coaching?
Any person who can benefit from a more comprehensive approach to their healthcare, illness, and wellness plan is a good candidate for pain health coaching. Assistance may include within and outside healthcare settings. It helps if the chronic pain patient understands that making sustainable changes in their pain levels requires a continuum. A sustained pain management plan will address the individual’s capacity and the demands that will need incorporating into the patient’s values, daily activities, and preferences.
Can you answer “yes” to the following questions?
- Have you tried many pain management treatments but still need relief from pain?
- Are you lacking the tools to cope with your pain symptoms between visits to your provider?
- Have other pain doctors told you there is little more they can do for you besides pills, injections, and risky, unproven surgeries?
- Are you losing hope amid your journey to get help with chronic pain?
- Are you interested in creating sustainable lifestyle changes to eliminate pain long-term?
- Are you curious about preventative approaches to health and wellbeing?
- Are you ready to take your pain management into your own hands?
If you answered yes to one or several of the questions above, our Health Coaches may help you recover from chronic pain! Once we’ve diagnosed what may be behind your persistent pain, your road to recovery begins with a solid treatment plan. Whether it is triggered by a pulled jaw muscle, poor posture, facial nerve pain, shoulder pain, other injury or stress factor, we can help.
“Training patients reduces factors that contribute to the persistence of chronic pain. Whether they be ergonomics, exercise, repetitive strain, emotional issues, or loneliness – a lot of psychosocial factors play a role. Each of those is a factor that, if you improve, actually turns the pain volume down, both at the peripheral level as well as the central level. So transformative care is a very simple concept of integrating patient training with pain treatments.” – James Fricton, DDS MS
How to get Started with Pain Health Coaching
Pain-management coaching offered by the Minnesota Head, Neck & Pain Clinics is done by:
- 30-60 minute telephone sessions every other week supplemented by virtual lessons accessed through a personalized learning portal.
- These sessions require that you have ongoing access to the internet to complete virtual lessons (ideally on a computer, laptop, or tablet) and that you are able to talk on the phone for telehealth visits.
- Your input helps shape your coaching sessions to achieve your best self.
How to Prepare Before Each Health Coach Session?
- Find a private, distraction-free area – these sessions are confidential but with telehealth, confidentiality also depends on you!
- Dedicate a notebook or Word document to the PACT lessons and coaching visits so you can take notes and record goals and action steps – it is your responsibility to remember assignments between visits.
- Be present for each call – ensure you have the full appointment time to dedicate to yourself without disruptions; turn off background noise/devices; remove yourself from rooms/spaces with other people; no driving for safety reasons – we will reschedule if you are driving at the time of your appointment. A telemedicine appointment is one option.
- We recommend you have access to your online account during coaching visits – we often review assessment results or lessons during our visits.
- Option to use a headset/headphones to optimize comfort during calls.
What to Expect During Each Wellness Coaching Session?
You can anticipate the following to occur during your sessions:
- Optional short Grounding/Breathing practice to start our session.
- Short check-in to share how you’re doing.
- Set a focus – I will ask “what do you want to accomplish in this session?” or “what feels important for us to focus on today?” – it’s helpful if you come to the visit prepared with a focus but not mandatory.
- Review modules/assessments/progress – we will discuss lessons completed and note areas of risk.
- Goals/Action plan – together we will craft goals and build an action plan to apply the lessons.
- Takeaway – a short summary of what was most helpful during the session or any “ah-ha moments”.
- Schedule our next session.
Pain Patient Responsibilities After Sessions
The effectiveness of your pain health coaching depends to a large extent on the implementation of this integrative care. The level to which you embrace it impacts your improved pain outcomes, and sense of improved well-being.
- Between sessions, you are responsible for completing the virtual lessons decided upon during our coaching visit. This is where your notebook comes in handy; it’s up to you to remember what lessons were assigned and to take notes on the content. You can prepare a list of questiosn to ask. For example, is you want to know what a pain disorder is, or request an alternate expercise, we’ll answer that.
- It is also your responsibility to put your plans into action! The virtual content is a small piece of the puzzle – what you do with the information makes all the difference! Our health coaching program is not a passive treatment plan. It involves a commitment to building awareness, learning new coping skills, and developing strategies that support you in ultimately reaching your goals!
- Recognize that successful sessions involve a strong partnership. Both the patient and the provider should acknowledge that the client/patient is the key driver to a sustainable behavioral change. Your coach’s role is to meet the needs of the patient and improve their quality of life, honoring that the patient/client is the expert to achieving their best selves. Only what the patient implements on their own time matters in the end.
How Long does Health Coaching Take?
Our Pain Health Coach program usually takes 5-8 months of meeting with a pain coach every other week for 30-60minutes to develop your own personalized Pain Management Plan and discuss your goals.
You will co-create a customized pain management plan, centering on you as your own expert – you know yourself better than anyone. That wisdom is your most valuable asset. Your coach will ask questions to determine what motivates you, what you value, what success means for you, and what your vision is for the future. This will help you move forward as quickly and successfully as possible. Note: the first session is typically 45-60 minutes for initial assessments while the follow-up visits run between 30-45 minutes.
That being said, some people stay in the program shorter or longer. Behavior change takes time and ultimately you get to determine the pace that is most supportive for you. A true commitment to this priority will lead you to a healthier lifestyle with less pain.
“Despite a steady increase in life expectancy and significant advances in medical discoveries in the United States for the past six decades, population health continues to show an overall lag or decline in comparison. The trends of increasing chronic conditions and associated worsening or disparities in quality of life have led to a diminished sense of well-being for many patients and their caregivers. While patients still require cutting edge and advanced medicine, compassionate and thoughtful care remains the core of the mission of medicine — the art of healing.” – NIH, Health and Wellness Coaching in Serving the Needs of Today’s Patients
“Chronic pain is difficult to address, and it is all too easy to adopt the mindset of wanting to turn it off. Unfortunately, medications and other interventions are not always successful in this regard. Teaching techniques for patients to work with the pain themselves is central to Whole Health care for people with chronic pain.” Self-Management of Chronic Pain, US Department of Veterans Affairs 
Experience the Difference a Pain Health Coach Makes
Your new life can begin today! Embracing a Health and Well-being Coach can make a difference.
Read more on our website, which explains how you can manage chronic pain issues while keeping exercise interesting. Our board-certified health coaches are already making pain management coaching the standard of care for many living with chronic pain.
We are here to help you gain your personal pain health coach. Call:
Plymouth: (763) 577-2484
St. Paul: (651) 332-7474
Burnsville: (952) 892-6222
St. Cloud: 763-233-7252
About the Author
Emily Ness, MA, NBC-HWC is a certified Integrative Health and Wellbeing Coach at the Minnesota Head and Neck Pain Clinic.
 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7509728/, 2020 Sep 21
 https://www.va.gov/WHOLEHEALTHLIBRARY/overviews/self-management-chronic-pain.asp, Whole Health Library