The chronic pain of knee, hip and back problems is being tackled thanks to a new Isle of Wight initiative.

ESCAPE-pain, (Enabling Self-management and Coping with Arthritic Pain using Exercise) is a six-week course combining education and coping strategies with an exercise programme tailored to each individual.

There are currently two programmes on offer: one focused on knees and hips and one  designed to benefit people with chronic low back pain. 

The courses are currently available to patients from Newport Health Centre, Cowes Medical Centre and Brookside Health Centre in Freshwater.

After being referred to the programme by their GP, or applying directly to join the programme, patients commit to taking part in two one-hour sessions per week for six weeks. 

Each group session is run with between 8-12 individuals, with all materials provided, and is hosted in an accessible community venue with parking nearby. 

A follow up call is also made at one month and three months after the programme concludes, to ensure people are continuing to manage well.

What Isle of Wight GPs say about ESCAPE

Dr Dominic Breen-Turner, GP at Newport Health Centre, said: “The aim of the course is to reduce people’s long-term pain, which in turn reduces people’s dependence on medication and boosts their confidence and benefits their mental health.

“People have responded very positively to the programme - I have had patients who have gone from leading sedentary lives due to their pain, to leading active lives and joining their local gym or other forms of exercise.”

Since its launch in August 2021 the course has received positive feedback from participants who have noticed an improvement in their pain levels and ability to carry out day-to-day tasks.

What Isle of Wight people say about ESCAPE

Pauline Martin from Newport, is currently taking part in the programme, she said: “I have chronic arthritis which really affects my quality of life.

"Since starting the course I have already found an improvement in my physical abilities and also in my mental wellbeing – because coming out to a group to meet with others who understand how I feel gives me something to look forward to.

"The sessions are friendly and warm with the supportive coach giving you the confidence to take part in exercise in a safe environment.”

The programme is currently available across the Central and West Wight Health Alliance Primary Care Network locality (which includes Newport, Freshwater and Cowes health centres), with the Hampshire, Southampton and Isle of Wight Clinical Commissioning Group hoping to expand the programme to other parts of the Island in the coming year.

Pete Locans, course facilitator and health and wellbeing coach at Newport Health Centre, said: “I am really proud to be delivering this programme to patients on the Island, we have seen some amazing results with people becoming more confident and optimistic – and in some cases more independent – as they become less reliant on medication and the support of others to carry out everyday tasks.

“The programme offers participants the opportunity to safely understand their abilities, which enables them to make realistic plans when considering daily tasks and long-term goals.”

A short film has been produced by Newport Health Centre to show people what to expect when taking part in ESCAPE-pain.