'Providing physical activity interventions for people with musculoskeletal conditions' report

It isn’t news that physical activity is good for you, but with an estimated 17.8 million people living with a musculoskeletal condition, physical activity for people with musculoskeletal conditions can really help to improve pain and improve their quality of life. An estimated 8.75 million people aged 45 years and over (33%) in the UK have sought treatment for osteoarthritis.

It can be challenging for those with joint and back pain to be physical active. There is a fear that they may make their condition worse and they may hear conflicting advice.

Supporting people to take part in physical activity will need a personalised approach; it may be helping people to access facilities that are sensitive to the needs of people with a musculoskeletal condition or there may be more 1:1 care needed for example through physiotherapy.

Consider ESCAPE-pain which is an evidenced based 6-week rehabilitation programme which provide peer support, education enabling self-management and exercise programme, the research shows that participants have a reduction in pain and an increase in mobility. These positive outcomes are replicated in the ESCAPE-pain classes across the country. Visit www.escape-pain.org to find out where your nearest class is & how you can refer your patients or ask about ESCAPE-pain coming to your area.

Physical activity isn’t just going to the gym, or going for a run, but includes all forms of activity including everyday walking and gardening. Regular physical activity that meets national guidelines has wider benefits to health including improving sleep, maintain healthy weight and managing stress.

Advice and support from health care professionals should take a personalised approach and support positive behaviour change including incorporating social support, motivational interviewing, encourage self-efficacy, allow choice of activity and positive reinforcement. For more details see the Versus Arthritis Policy and Public Affairs physical activity report.

'If we only offer medical treatments to our patients with arthritis, we are doing them a disservice. Physical activity helps joint pain, stiffness and fatigue and is safe for people with arthritis,' says Dr Benjamin Ellis, senior clinical policy advisor at Versus Arthritis. 'But many people with arthritis need support to become more physically active. As clinicians we must advocate for our patients, so that everyone who can benefit has access to the ESCAPE-pain programme locally.'