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Physiotherapists are helping local people to manage their musculoskeletal conditions

14 November 2019

Ruth Marrison is one of 11 physiotherapists across Morecambe Bay who have trained to lead an exercise programme to help empower patients to self-manage osteoarthritis (chronic joint pain) of the knee and hip. 

 Since July 2019, Ruth, along with her colleague Kayleigh Webster (both members of the Furness Community MSK Physiotherapy team) has provided 25 people from the Barrow area with the tools and techniques to self-manage their symptoms; focusing on exercise plus exploring the physical and psychosocial aspects of managing persistent joint pain. 

 The Enabling Self-Management and Coping with Arthritic Pain using Exercise (ESCAPE-pain) programme is aimed at people over 45 years old with a diagnosis of osteoarthritis of the hip and/or knee and who are capable of independent exercise. 

 Ruth Marrison, Specialist MSK Physiotherapist, said: “I think it’s a great evidence-based programme in a group setting which helps to empower people with knee and hip osteoarthritis to be able to self-manage their symptoms.  

“Many people assume once they have osteoarthritis that it’s a downward spiral and that there is little that can be done to help with their symptoms and that ultimately they will end up requiring a joint replacement. A lot of the people who come through ESCAPE-Pain haven’t exercised for a long time due to fear of exacerbating their symptoms and ‘doing harm’. We explain that not only is a graded exercise programme safe, it’s actually beneficial and what’s more, it’s often very enjoyable.” 

People attend 12 one-hour sessions, twice a week, over a six week period. The sessions involve a 15-minute talk which includes educational self-management and coping strategies, followed by a 45-minute exercise programme individualised for each person. 

 Long-term benefits of the programme include: 

  • Patients growing in confidence to self-manage their condition, which can reduce future contacts with the GP or physiotherapist
  • Self–management can help delay or reduce the need for surgery or repeat prescriptions
  •  Exercise can help to manage other co-morbidities such as diabetes.

Currently, GPs and other Healthcare Professionals refer people to the physiotherapy service for assessment and the physiotherapist identifies appropriate people to refer onto for the ESCAPE-pain programme. In the future, the programme will be extended across community venues to include other therapists and fitness instructors. A self-referral option for people with hip or knee arthritis will also be in available. 

 Patient feedback has included: 

“The programme has helped me to understand pain. To have confidence in managing the pain.” 

“Good, clear instruction on managing my pain with exercise.” 

 “Everything was explained very well and I feel confident to carry on with the exercises and diet control.” 

 “My care was very good. I was reassured that I can manage my arthritis without being afraid of further damage.” 

 “Time to discuss issues with physio. Very positive. Information about management of pain, medication, exercise, diet. Very good.” 

This new way of working is another example of Bay Health and Care Partners working together more effectively to provide better care in the community, which will keep people across Morecambe Bay healthier and at home for longer without having to come into hospital.