Chronic pain workshop at Senior Services

Suffering from chronic pain can lead to frustration, depression, and even isolation. Senior Services of Midland County has a series of classes, "Chronic Pain Self-Management Workshop", that teaches pain management techniques and provides peer support. 
Trena Winans is the director of education and outreach for Senior Services of Midland County.
Trena Winans, director of education and outreach at Senior Services, says the evidence-based program was originally developed at Stanford University. The six-week series meets for class each week on Wednesday from 1:30 to 4 p.m. and runs March 16 through April 20. There is an information session in-person at Trailside Senior Center on Wednesday, March 9 at noon. 

“Michigan had a big push to use all of these Stanford-developed, evidence-based programs around the time I started around 12 years ago,” Winans said. “They branded them as PATH: Personal Action Towards Health. This was the first of those types of programs that I was trained in myself.”

Winans says the program is suitable for all ages, and all abilities. “We really allow any age group, obviously, we’re at Senior Services, which means most of the people we serve are at 60+, but we don’t put any age limit,” she says. “I have had much younger people who struggle with chronic pain come to these classes.”

“It very quickly became apparent that really, if you have pain or not, there are so many of the skills that are usable in general for making change in your life, or adapting to circumstances and things,” she says. “It really is a very useful series of very important, helpful information for folks.”

One of the program’s key points is focused on drafting action plans, and putting the information participants learn into motion. “We spend a lot of time coming in and talking with people about what a good action plan is, how to create one, and the instructors model their own action plans,” Winans says. “They’re taking what they’ve learned, and they’re choosing what it is that they think they would like to work on, that they can manage and be successful at in a one-week period. We really talk about the importance of a specific, realistic plan that they’re confident they can achieve.”

Suffering from chronic pain can lead to frustration, depression, and even isolation.Past participants nationwide and worldwide have reported more vitality and energy, and less perception of pain, according to Winans. “Chronic pain is really coming from the brain rather than from an injury,” she says. 

“So much of the class is really helping people learn techniques that can help them adapt, understand what’s going on, pace themselves for activity and rest, and learn gentle exercises. These tools can help them feel better able to handle depression, frustration and anger that can come along with chronic pain.”

Classes are donation-based, and are capped at 16 students, to allow for small-group discussion, brainstorming and support. The recommended donation is $25, and that includes a copy of a resource book after 4 classes are attended. People can register for the class by calling 989-633-3700 or going online.


Read more articles by Sarah Spohn.

Sarah Spohn is a Lansing native, but every day finds a new interesting person, place, or thing in towns all over Michigan, leaving her truly smitten with the mitten. She received her degrees in journalism and professional communications and provides coverage for various publications locally, regionally, and nationally — writing stories on small businesses, arts and culture, dining, community, and anything Michigan-made. You can find her in a record shop, a local concert, or eating one too many desserts at a bakery. If by chance, she’s not at any of those places, you can contact her at