The key to managing chronic joint pain

Mike Hurley from the Health Innovation Network (Academic Health Science Network for south London) explains how they are helping people to self-manage their chronic joint pain.

The increasing burden of an ageing population on NHS services is well documented. GP’s are doing their best to cope with the ever increasing demand on services; sometimes lacking both capacity and expertise to support people to change their behaviour and adopt healthier lifestyles.

Patients with long term conditions, such as osteoarthritis (OA) often tell us they feel GP’s are unable to help, at best they are prescribed palliative medication which they tell us they don’t like to take and at worst they are told it is just part of “getting older”. Despite this patients are unsure of where else to turn for advice and support.

Self-management is a hot topic in healthcare at the moment, often heralded as the answer to some of the NHS’s most complex problems. But does it really work?

At the Health Innovation Network (Academic Health Science Network for South London) we have been focusing on helping people to self-manage their chronic joint pain and have piloted a new approach to managing osteoarthritis (OA) in Primary Care – the Joint Pain Advisor.

The Joint Pain Advisor takes the form of up to four 30 minute face-to-face consultations between the Advisors and people with hip or knee OA.  People attend an assessment where they discuss their lifestyle, challenges and personal goals and then jointly develop a personalised care plan which gives tailored advice and support based on NICE guidelines for the management of OA. People are then invited to attend reviews after three weeks, six-eight weeks and six months to access further tailored support and advice.

To date over 500 patients have used this service and reported less pain, better function and higher activity levels. A high satisfaction rate was achieved which included reduced BMI, body weight and waist circumference and has led to fewer GP consultations, investigations and onward referrals.

In our original study we used physiotherapists as Joint Pain Advisors but recently we have worked with Health Trainers and Coaches. We think that the Joint Pain Advisor could significantly reduce the cost of helping people with chronic joint pain.

Find out more about Joint Pain Advisor and join the webinar to be held on Friday 24 March.

You can also contact us at the Health Innovation Network by emailing, Project Manager, MSK theme.

Mike Hurley

Professor Michael Hurley, Clinical Director – Musculoskeletal Programme

Health Innovation Network (Academic Health Science Network for South London)

Mike Hurley qualified as a physiotherapist in 1985. He was Lecturer, Reader and Professor in Physiotherapy at Kings College London until moving to the School of Rehabilitation Sciences at St George’s University of London in 2010.

His areas of interest are devising and evaluating exercise-based rehabilitation chronic joint pain, rheumatic conditions, falls and dementia. He has conducted several large trials in primary and secondary care. He works closely with healthcare users, clinicians and commissioners to ensure the interventions developed are clinically practicable, in order to facilitate wide clinical implementation.

He has published over 65 papers. In July 2013 he was appointed Clinical Director for the Musculoskeletal Programme of the Health Innovation Network South London (an Academic Health Science Network) to promote implementation of best practice for people with musculoskeletal conditions across the twelve South London boroughs.

ESCAPE-pain is a rehabilitation programme for people with chronic knee and/or hip pain. It has an extensive evidence base that shows it is effective, cost-effective and popular, with large potential savings in healthcare. As of August 2016 it was being delivered in almost 30 centres across the UK and over 2000 people had benefitted.


  1. Beryl Parsons says:

    I can find no help for people with arthritic hand conditions. Ibuprofen gel and/or tablets are of little use and the tabs give very limited and temporary relief. I’ve tried to look for dietary changes that might help but the only things out there are money-making projects – ie OUR book or OUR pills. Is any-one concentrating on this area? the inability to use one’s hands is very restricting.

  2. Kassander says:

    “The increasing burden of an ageing population on NHS services is well documented.”
    Goodness gracious me!

  3. Antonn Mann says:

    “The increasing burden of an ageing population on NHS services is well documented.”
    The sooner we have euthanasia the better, eeh?

  4. Steve Brown says:

    What a surprise! Physio GP bashes on NHS England’s behalf. His solution? More physios.

    Hi sentiments on GPs is nothing short of slanderous.

    • Kassander says:

      I agree – He’s a very naughty boy – and when Lynne Truss sees that a Professor doesn’t know the difference between “GP’s” and “GPs” she’ll probably set her panda on him.