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Two-week self-help course cuts pain for arthritis patients

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A fast-track self-management programme can significantly reduce pain scores and health distress in arthritis patients with chronic pain, according to a UK study.

Researchers said the ‘Challenging Pain’ programme – devised by the charity Arthritis Care and pain specialists at Derriford Hospital in Plymouth – is just as effective as a traditional six week programme, and improvements can continue for up to a year.

They studied 186 patients who attended workshops that consisted of two half-day sessions on consecutive weeks where they were taught a range of pain management techniques, including relaxation, stress management and strategies for managing fatigue.

The researchers said that, after 12 months, pain scores were reduced by 14% and health distress was down by over a third. Visits to the GP decreased by 23% and self-efficacy was up by over a quarter, they added.

Lead researcher Janet Cowlard, Arthritis Care training services manager for south west England, said: ‘We devised this programme to try to ease the burden of chronic pain in patients with arthritis and other long-term pain conditions, while offering a faster and more cost effective management approach.’

The study results were presented yesterday at the European League Against Rheumatism conference in Paris, France.

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