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Chronic joint pain, or osteoarthritis, affects one in five people over the age of 50, and one in two people over the age of 80 in the UK. This condition can cause considerable suffering and distress, and can reduce quality of life.

A small proportion (about 5% of the eight to ten million sufferers in the UK) proceed to surgical intervention. However, the vast majority are managed in the community, usually with painkillers – which are both unpopular with patients, and potentially harmful. Roughly one in four GP appointments are estimated to be related to joint pain.

ESCAPE-pain is a group rehabilitation programme for people with knee and/or hip osteoarthritis, providing self-management support in the community.

The course is delivered by a physiotherapist or an exercise professional in 10 to 12 sessions over five to six weeks.

In 2017, ESCAPE-pain was selected to join the NHS Innovation Accelerator to encourage the spread of the programme. In addition, ESCAPE-pain has been selected as one of seven priorities to be adopted and spread across the AHSN Network during 2018-2020.

The ESCAPE-pain programme

The programme comprises 10 to 12 supervised sessions for a small group of participants who receive education and take part in a tailored exercise programme. Sessions are twice-weekly for five to six weeks, and the trained supervisor is typically (but not necessarily) a physiotherapist or exercise professional.

The programme measures a range of clinical outcomes, and at the end of the programme, participants are signposted to services to help them continue to progress.

A one day training programme has been designed for clinicians and exercise professionals keen to implement the programme in their locality. This provides participants with technical competencies and the ethos underpinning the programme to successfully deliver and implement ESCAPE-pain. Post training, participants are provided with a comprehensive online resource pack to begin delivery of the programme.

The ESCAPE-pain programme is now increasingly being delivered to people in leisure centres and other community venues, offering easier access away from clinical settings. The programme has also been delivered in workplaces, directly to staff who have chronic joint pain.


  • Reduction in pain levels
  • Significant improvement in function levels
  • Improved psychosocial wellbeing
  • Patient activation and improved self-management
  • Less costly than usual care of osteoarthritis

What’s happening locally?

We’re working with member organisations across the West of England, as well as the leisure sector to spread and adopt ESCAPE-pain. Over the coming months, a number of sites will continue to go live, with training sessions being delivered locally.

More information

For further information, visit or contact Megan Kirbyshire, our ESCAPE-pain Project Manager.