The Yorkshire exercise programme helping osteoarthritis sufferers

An exercise programme is helping to alleviate people’s pain from osteoarthritis and avoid some treatment. Catherine Scott reports.

Marian Bunney Picture: Sam Toolsie

This week is Self Care Week, the annual awareness campaign which aims to increase people’s ability to look after their own health and wellbeing. With a second COVID-19 lockdown in place, it is more important than ever for people to be able to effectively look after their health.

Marian Bunney, 69,from Bridlington, explains how an exercise and educational programme called ESCAPE pain has given her the means to continue to look after herself and avoid forcing her to use a mobility scooter due to her crippling knee pain. ESCAPE-pain is a powerful exercise programme designed to help beat the disabling pain of knee and hip osteoarthritis. By attending two sessions per week for six weeks, participants learn to take control of their pain, manage it and return to a more physically active life.

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“At 40 years old I was diagnosed with osteoporosis and osteoarthritis. Over the years, the pain got worse and walking became more difficult. I joined the ESCAPE-pain programme as my GP suggested it, otherwise a knee replacement was going to be the next step.

“We were a mixed group in various degrees of pain. We were counselled at each session by a trainer with very useful help and information on diet, exercise and pain management. Following the counselling sessions, we were then put through gentle but effective exercises.

“It was very enjoyable, not only because I could feel that my ability to move was improving, but also my self-confidence got better. As a class we bonded and some of us found new friendships. I have now cut down on my pain medication from six Co-codamol a day to two and lost two and a half stone to date.

“Following on from the course, I have joined a walking group, I attend Chair Aerobics and the gym.

At home, I do exercises I learnt on the course and I have bought a resistance band to do the specific exercises for my knee. I am no longer as stiff or as tired now when I exercise. I can look after my own home cleaning in a three-story house. At one point, I was looking to get a bungalow, now I feel I can manage in my own house.

“Even though my osteoporosis is deteriorating, I am still walking without aids by following what the programme taught me. No invalidity scooter for me, I am going out on my own two legs.”

More than 800 people will be able to join the programme as the East Riding Clinical Commissioning Group has commissioned East Riding Leisure Centres to provide ESCAPE-pain. While areas remain in lockdown, participants will be offered the opportunity to join classes remotely via Zoom until it is possible to resume sessions in the leisure centres. For more information about the ESCAPE pain programme contact your GP or email [email protected]