Enabling Self-management
and Coping with Arthritic Pain
using Exercise

Programme overview

Chronic joint pain, joint stiffness and reduced physical function are the main symptoms associated with osteoarthritis (OA) - the most common form of arthritis. Although OA can't be cured there is a great deal people can do to relieve these symptoms. There is also a great deal of evidence that better understanding of the problem, and exercise are very effective ways of reducing pain and the physical and psychosocial effects of chronic pain.‚Äč Visit the NHS choices website for more information about OA.

ESCAPE-pain is a rehabilitation programme for people with chronic joint pain that integrates simple education, self-management and coping strategies, with an exercise regimen individualised for each person.

Aims of the programme

To help people understand their condition better, and to realise that exercise is a safe and effective self-management strategy, that can be used to reduce joint pain and the physical and psychosocial effects of joint pain.

Structure of the programme

ESCAPE-pain was originally delivered by physiotherapists in hospital outpatient departments but it need not be limited to clinical environments. The programme is currently also being offered in numerous gyms, leisure centres, and community halls, and can be delivered by both healthcare professionals and fitness instructors.

The programme is delivered to small groups of people twice a week, for six weeks (total 12 classes). There are two components to the programme:

1) an education component where people learn about the problem, what might be causing it, why they experience pain, simple ways to cope and self-manage their problems

2) an exercise regimen where people undertake a progressive exercise programme tailored to each individual’s needs and abilities

Core Tenets of the programme

Before booking onto the training course please be aware of the core tenets of the ESCAPE-pain programme which need to be adhered to in order to deliver ESCAPE-pain:

  • Each Programme must include 10, ideally 12 sessions
  • Each session must include both an exercise and education component
  • Participants must progress through the Programme as a group i.e. start and end together
  • The agreed outcome measure data are collected and shared with the ESCAPE-pain team
  • The Programme and the use of the training materials can only be delivered by facilitators who attended the ESCAPE-pain training 


Email us at hello@escape-pain.org for our Implementation Toolkit or to find out more about implementing ESCAPE-pain in your organisation. If you've registered on this website, you will receive a regular e-newsletter that includes updates about the ESCAPE-pain programme.