Program gives people the ability to manage health, pain and maintain an active lifestyle
By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant
The opioid crisis has drawn much attention to pain management. Improving pain management represents one means of curbing the epidemic of prescription pain medication abuse.
Upstate is launching Chronic Pain Self-Management, a six-week program for 20 participants aged 18-plus that will meet at Upstate OASIS. The evidence-based, peer-led workshop will meet for 2.5 hours each week with the goals of improving energy and mental health; decreasing pain levels and dependence on others; increasing involvement in everyday activities; and improving overall life satisfaction.
Upstate has seen much success with similar programs, including Living Healthy with a Chronic Condition for chronic disease self-management; Peer Support for Adults with Type 2 Diabetes, which focuses on diabetes self-care.
Like those programs, Chronic Pain Self-Management “gives people the ability to manage their health, manage pain, and how to maintain an active and fulfilling life,” said coordinator Lisa Vigliotti-Bane, outreach and women’s health manager for Upstate’s HealthLink/Oasis.
“Chronic” or “long-term” means pain that lasts longer than three to six months or beyond the normal time of healing for an injury.
Some examples include fibromyalgia, repetitive strain injury, post-surgical pain and neuropathic pain.
“It may benefit people who have persistent headache, irritable bowel syndrome, diabetic neuropathy and pain due to conditions like multiple sclerosis,” Vigliotti-Bane said. “A lot of chronic conditions also have pain as a secondary diagnosis.”
She said that the program will cover a lot, but “it does fly by.”
Participants learn about the differences between acute and chronic pain, tips for managing pain, how to communicate with their healthcare team effectively, and how to create an action plan related to their condition and how it affects their lives in general.
“We set them up so they can achieve it,” Vigliotti-Bane said, “and if they don’t, we ask why they weren’t partially able to achieve it. We teach them how to problem solve and make decisions. They learn how to manage when they can’t set out to achieve it.”
The program also emphasizes exercise: maintaining strength, flexibility and endurance.
“We have to be aware of our level and limits so we grow from there,” Vigliotti-Bane said.
Though the program isn’t clinical, it covers the appropriate uses of medication and patient responsibility if they are on medication so they understand it and how it’s supposed to work and how to use it appropriately.
Grants help fund the programs, though voluntary contributions are welcomed. By teaching patients to self-manage conditions, they use fewer healthcare resources.
“At the end of the program, we have exercises in place so the participant can recognize how far they have come,” Vigliotti-Bane said. “What they tell us in their closing comments are that they are aware of what their responsibility is now. Many of them see a change in their health.
“They are excited that they have been able to make small changes to their diet and exercise program and, most importantly, they come to the realization that their doctor only is aware of what they tell them.”
Patients need to take responsibility to keep their care providers informed so they can more effectively manage their care.
Anyone in Onondaga County with a primary or secondary diagnosis of chronic pain who wants to improve its management is welcome to apply to the free program, “but we never turn anyone away,” Vigliotti-Bane added.
All class participants receive a free book and CD.
To register, call 315-464-8668 or register online at
www.Upstate.edu/LivingHealthy. The program meets Thursdays: April 25, May 2, 9, 16, 23, 30 from 5:30 to 8 p.m. at Upstate OASIS, 6333 Route 298, East Syracuse.