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ESCAPE-pain: Chris’s story

Early in 2018, 64 year-old Chris went to see his GP about worsening pain in his hip and groin. He was diagnosed with arthritis in both of his hips but decided he wasn’t prepared to go through surgery to fix the problem. Instead, he started a course of physiotherapy and his NHS physiotherapist suggested he enrol in ESCAPE-pain, one of the AHSN Network’s national adoption and spread programmes.

Chris attended the course, twice a week for five weeks. ESCAPE-pain is an NHS group rehabilitation programme for people with knee and/or hip osteoarthritis, providing self-management support in the community. It helps people understand their condition, teaches them simple things they can help themselves with, and takes them through a progressive exercise programme so they learn how to cope with pain better. For Chris it had a significant positive impact on both his physical and mental wellbeing.

“Before ESCAPE-pain I managed my symptoms with pain relief, and avoided exercise in case it caused a flare up. After the programme I was able to re-engage with normal life; for instance I started walking the half mile into my local village and back. Most importantly the programme connected me with other people going through the same thing.”

At the end of the course, Chris was referred for a further exercise programme at his local gym, which he now maintains.

“It’s a lifestyle change – I could see the difference it made, and it spurred me on to continue working on the change. Before the programme, I was struggling to put my socks on; now I’m looking forward to getting out for country walks again. I’ve invested in some walking poles and I’m building up my confidence and stamina so that I can get out and enjoy some country walks this summer.

“The programme has been brilliant for me, I feel very fortunate to have this facility available locally. I recognise that this is very much the start of a process, but the great thing is that I feel I am back in control of my condition.”

Nicholas Biffen, Senior Physiotherapist who led Chris’ local ESCAPE-pain group, commented: “Chris has been one of our star participants; he even comes back to talk to new participants about what the course can do for them. Word is starting to spread about the course now and we’re getting patients referred by their GPs as an alternative to surgery, and we’ve even had some self-refer. I’m really happy the AHSN has chosen this as one of their key programmes to spread across the West of England, as we continually see it have a direct and positive impact on people’s lives.”

Megan Kirbyshire, Senior Project Manager at the West of England AHSN commented: “It’s great to hear stories like this – we know that nearly 500 patients have benefitted over 11 sites in our region during 2018/19. This will ensure that people receive the right treatment at the right time, and hopefully will relieve some of the pressure on orthopaedic surgery. It also means that hundreds of individuals in the West of England are enjoying improved mobility and a new level of understanding and control over their conditions.” ■

Read more in our Innovating Together magazine – a look back at the work of  West of England AHSN in the year 2018-19, and a look ahead to some the work we have planned . Download it here as a PDF or read it below via Issuu