This programme has now closed but you may find the below resources useful. Please note the information on this webpage was correct at the time of publication.

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. Lower back pain is managed in the ‘ESCAPE-Pain for Backs classes’. Find out more about ESCAPE-pain by visiting the programme’s website. 

In 2017, ESCAPE-pain was selected to join the NHS Innovation Accelerator to encourage the spread of the programme. Read more about the NHS Innovation Accelerator here.

In addition, ESCAPE-pain was selected as one of seven priorities to be adopted and spread across the AHSN Network during 2018-2020. Read more about the AHSN Network and the seven programmes selected here.

The longer-term future of the programme has now been secured through a partnership between HIN and national medical charity Orthopaedic Research UK (ORUK). From 20 April 2021, the charity, which works to improve bone, joint and muscle wellbeing through education, training and research, will operate and develop ESCAPE-pain under licence from the HIN. Key members of the ESCAPE-pain team will continue to run ESCAPE-pain at Orthopaedic Research UK, ensuring a seamless transfer. Read more about this news here.

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 often 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 going on locally?

Throughout the course of the National Programme in 2018-2020, we worked closely with our member organisation to support implementation of ESCAPE-Pain in a number of sites across Gloucestershire, Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire, and Bath, Swindon and Wiltshire.

To find a course local to you, visit the ESCAPE-Pain website.

More information

For further information on setting up an ESCAPE-Pain site or if you have a general enquiry, please contact or visit