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Knowledge Enhances Your Skills: The KEYS to arthritis self-management

Arthritis is a debilitating condition that affects millions of people worldwide. However, with the right knowledge and self-management techniques, individuals can maintain a higher quality of life and reduce the impact of arthritis on their daily activities. This article explores the KEYS to arthritis self-management, highlighting the importance of knowledge acquisition and how it can enhance your skills in managing your arthritis. Whether you are newly diagnosed or have been living with arthritis for years, our Arthritis KEYS program will provide valuable insights and tips to help you take control of your health.

Arthritis KEYS program 

Arthritis and Osteoporosis WA (AOWA) provides self-management programs for consumers living with arthritis. The programs consist of six classes held over six weeks. Facilitators lead the classes and help participants to identify high-value care options and empower them with “how-to” skills based on scientifically evidenced ways to manage their Osteoarthritis (OA), Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA), Psoriatic Arthritis (PsA) or Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS). These programs encourage interaction with others facing similar health-related challenges and enable health goal-setting in a friendly, small group environment.

The programs were renamed ‘Arthritis KEYS program’, an acronym derived from the program’s objective: Knowledge Enhances Your Skills. The affordable KEYS programs are delivered as small group classes, either online or in-person, at various locations.

Keeping current with arthritis evidence 

AOWA initially created the programs over fifteen years ago and has successfully helped people better manage their arthritis. However, as new evidence has emerged, our programs were updated two years ago. In addition, the OA knee program was reconfigured and expanded to include OA of any joint (hip, knee, foot, shoulder, elbow, or hand). This expansion has improved access to AOWA services for people with OA – regardless of which joint/s is affected.

Course Outline

Week 1: Information on your condition

This week’s content provides broad information and practical strategies to effectively manage your arthritis, maintain joint health, and enhance your overall quality of life. The module covers key topics such as self-management techniques, understanding arthritis, joint care, and goal setting.

By the end of the module:

✓ You will comprehensively understand your specific arthritic condition, including its prevalence, risk factors, common symptoms, and diagnosis.

✓ You will acquire practical skills and strategies to care for your joints, manage arthritis-related symptoms, and set meaningful goals to improve your overall quality of life.


Week 2: Physical activity & exercise

This week’s content aims to educate and empower you on the importance of physical activity and exercise in promoting your overall well-being. The module covers exercise safety, various exercises, and techniques to improve flexibility, strength, and overall joint health, and finding a suitable exercise program.

By the end of the module:

✓ You will comprehensively understand the importance of physical activity and exercise in promoting physical health.

✓ You will be equipped with the knowledge and practical skills necessary to engage in safe and effective exercise routines.


Week 3: Pain management and medications

This week focuses on equipping you with the knowledge and strategies to effectively manage and relieve pain, promoting overall well-being and greater control over your arthritis symptoms. The module covers essential topics, including the complex nature of pain, individual experiences and perceptions of pain, different approaches to pain management, and the role of medications.

You will:

✓ Explore conservative management techniques such as exercise, pacing, heat and cold therapy, relaxation techniques, and cognitive-behavioural strategies.

✓ Learn about medical management options for pain, including analgesic medications, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), corticosteroids, Disease Modifying Anti-Rheumatic Drugs (DMARDs), as well as complementary and alternative medicines, common supplements and rubs, and invasive medical procedures.


Week 4: Emotional health

This week’s module aims to empower you with the knowledge and skills to improve your emotional well-being, resilience, and stress and fatigue management. Key topics covered include optimism, self-talk, stress management, distraction techniques, fatigue management, and balance exercises.

By the end of the module:

✓ You will thoroughly understand emotional health and the significance of nurturing your emotional well-being.

✓ You will acquire practical strategies for fostering optimism, managing stress, engaging in effective self-talk, utilising distraction techniques, performing balance exercises, and managing fatigue.


Week 5: Healthy eating

This week will provide you with the knowledge and tools needed to adopt a balanced approach to nutrition, effectively manage body weight, and make informed decisions for a healthy lifestyle. This module covers healthy eating principles, body weight management, weight loss strategies, problem-solving techniques, and the importance of incidental exercise.

By the end of the module:

✓ You will be equipped with practical tools and knowledge to make informed decisions about your nutrition.

✓ Work towards achieving a healthy body weight and lead a balanced and nourishing lifestyle.


Week 6: Finding the right support

In the program’s final week, our goal is to empower you by offering practical guidance on accessing and utilising various forms of support.

This module covers a range of topics, including:

✓ Building a social support network.

✓ Obtaining support for multiple health issues.

✓ Understanding the role of different support systems such as community organisations and advocacy groups.

✓ Accessing financial assistance.

✓ Seeking support from healthcare professionals.

✓ Falls prevention tips for creating a safe environment, reducing fall risks, and strategies for staying on track.


You can create a robust support network, experience a sense of belonging, receive encouragement, and access valuable resources by finding the proper support. These elements will significantly enhance your overall well-being throughout your journey with arthritis. Visit our website for more information www.arthritiswa.org.au/services/self-management-courses/ or call us on 1800 011 041.


What did past participants say about the program?

“Loved the inclusivity of approaches and participants. Appreciated the presentations and the presenter’s approach. Definitely worth my time.”

“The sessions were very informative. I understand my condition better and have learnt new ways of managing my arthritis.”


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