This is a category taken from the full feed of Musculoskeletal and Arthritis news provided by ARMA's members.
  • The Arthritis and Musculoskeletal Alliance (ARMA) is the umbrella body for the arthritis and musculoskeletal community in the UK, and our mission is to transform the quality of life of people with musculoskeletal conditions. We have 40 member organisations ranging from specialised support groups for rare diseases to major research charities and national professional bodies.

Author Archive

This month Arthritis Research UK launched the new report ‘Providing physical activity interventions for people with musculoskeletal conditions’ at the Local Government Association/Associated Directors of Public Health conference on the 9th of March, where we also ran a policy session outlining the work in the report and the wider relationship between physical activity and musculoskeletal health.

Joining us at the event were speakers from Public Heath England, the Royal Borough of Greenwich and an expert patient on exercising with arthritis and we were very pleased that delegates from a wide range of professional backgrounds attended the session.  We also promoted the report this week at the PULSE live conference where we spoke to GPs about physical activity programmes in their local area.

For more information about the report and to download a copy, please visit the following page:


Everyday exercises for everyday lives

To help people with joint pain keep moving, Arthritis Research UK has launched the ‘Everyday exercises for everyday lives’ programme, in partnership with Voltarol Emulgel P*. This includes short, easy-to-follow exercise videos that have been specially designed by the experts at Arthritis Research UK for people with joint pain, so they can be easily incorporated into everyday life.  The exercises aim to deliver real results for back, shoulder, knee, hip and hand pain.

For more information please visit:


image of Scott HaldemanARMA trustee, Matthew Bennett, attended the World Federation of Chiropractic (WFC) Assembly in Washington, a meeting of the leaders of the worlds’ chiropractic associations. A common theme was the growth of the profession. In the Republic of Congo, with just two chiropractors for example, there is an urgent need for development and the WFC does a great job supporting emerging professions in countries like this.

The Assembly was told about the WFC’s work at the WHO. The WFC is a recognised Non-Governmental organisation (NGO) at the WHO – the only one with a focus on spinal health. The number of NGOs is being cut by a third and, to its credit, the WFC has survived this pruning.

The WFC attends the World Health Assembly in Geneva every year to influence policy and ARMA Chair, Tony Woolf, attended with the WFC in 2013. The WFC, for example, is working on updating the WHO Guidelines on Training and Safety in Chiropractic. Over the next two years the WFC will also be working on benchmarking, i.e. defining usual best practice in chiropractic. These documents will assist countries with emerging professions to gain credibility with their governments.

Various other projects include work on disability and rehabilitation, social determinants of health, and health workforce planning e.g. lobbying at the WHO. MSK care and especially spine care are mentioned in the Global Strategy on Human Resources for Health: Workforce 2030. All this work will help us lobby our UK government.

The WFC also held its biannual conference after the Assembly. 1200 delegates from around the world heard speakers summarise their research, comment on MSK guidelines and best practice and talk about the integration of professional groups who deal with MSK problems based around competences.

Another strong theme was the opioid epidemic sweeping America and the rest of the world. We heard that opioid deaths surged in the US in 2015 surpassing 30,000 in that year alone and a 72% increase in hospitalisations related to opioid abuse from 2002 to 2012. A recent US government study puts the economic burden to the US economy at $78 billion. Perhaps surprisingly it is not the illegal use of opioids that is the biggest problem: 6 in 10 American adults take prescription opioid drugs.

Most opioid prescriptions in the US are for pain with back pain being the most common (27%), followed by severe headache or migraine (15%) and neck pain (15%). There is a strong drive from the US government, health agencies and insurers to pursue non-pharmacological approaches to MSK pain particularly as opioids have not been shown to be effective for this type of pain.


At a recent meeting of the World Federation of Chiropractic in Washington, founder of World Spine Care, Scott Haldeman MD, DC, reported on the latest developments.

The WSC is a collaboration of people working in MSK care, a charity dedicated to improving the lives of those suffering from spine related conditions in communities underserved by health care. Desmond Tutu and Elon Musk have put their names to WSC.

Work goes on in India, Ghana, Botswana and the Dominican Republic. Besides facilitating and funding clinicians’ work in these countries, the WSC also funds college education for future chiropractors from these countries.

The Global Spine Care Initiative has created a model for implementing care in countries without adequate provision. This includes evidence of the burden of MSK conditions, evidence-based guidelines, care pathways, resources and research. It recommends non-surgical, primary spine care. Scott Haldeman implored us all to donate and volunteer to support the WSC initiative.

See Nadine Harrison’s pictures of the World Spine Care Shoshong clinic in Botswana.


RA Awareness Week is coming soon…19-25 June 2017.

Awareness packs will be sent out in early April and you can request your copy by emailing today.

Over 30 charity CEOs write to DWP about changes to Personal Independence Payment (PIP)

On 15th March, the Chief Executives of over 30 charities and organisations (including NRAS) wrote an open letter to Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work, Penny Mordaunt, urging her not to proceed with damaging changes to Personal Independence Payments. You can read the letter here.

Debbie Cook, Chief Executive at NASS, has been a member of the Guideline Development Group working with NICE for over two years, particularly giving the patients’ perspective. The NICE Guideline for Spondyloarthritis was issued at the end of February 2017. 

NASS welcome this Guideline. We will be working hard to promote it and to ensure the recommendations contained within it are taken on board.  You can read it in full on the NICE website.


Dr John Hunter, Consultant Rheumatologist at NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde

NASS launched our first ever Patients’ Choice awards in 2016 to mark our 40th anniversary. 

Our Members voted for the health professionals who made a difference to their AS. Most of the awards were presented at our Parliamentary reception in Westminster in November 2016.

But one of the most important awards remained, and on Tuesday 1 March Debbie Cook attended the Scottish Parliament Cross Party Group for Arthritis and Musculoskeletal Conditions to present the NASS Patients’ Choice You Changed My Life award. The award went to:

Dr John Hunter, Consultant Rheumatologist at NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde.


Prescription Charges Coalition Survey

The Prescription Charges Coalition has launched a new survey looking at the ways in which prescription charges affect the lives of people in England with long-term conditions.

At the moment, people in England with long term conditions who work have to pay for their medicines, because the list of illnesses that qualify for free prescriptions is limited and out of date. We know that these costs can be a barrier to people taking their medication as prescribed, which can have serious consequences for their health. The Prescription Charges Coalition are campaigning for all people with long-term conditions to receive free prescriptions.

Please encourage your members to take part in the survey.


Venues:   London, Glasgow, Dublin, Manchester

Four-day course for regulated health professionals
Experienced, medically trained lecturers
Comprehensive course notes
100 Free needles

Visit this page on our website for dates and venues.


British Medical Acupuncture Society Spring Conference

Venue: Hilton Hotel, Paddington, London
Saturday 20 May 2017

Price:  £155 BMAS members;   £185 non members          


Kajsa Landgren – acupuncture for colic in babies

Charles Buck is back – ‘The essence of needling’ will look at the place of intention and related ideas in acupuncture practice.

Ewan Wallace – Tales from acupuncture in paediatric secondary care.

Manuel Maliqueo (unconfirmed) – Electroacupuncture effect on HbA1c in women with PCOS

Mike Cummings – Acupuncture in low back pain and NICE Guideline 59


Further details & to book:

Tel: 01606 786782   Email:

BMAS House, 2/3 Winnington Court, Northwich, Cheshire CW8 1AQ

There have been reports in the media recently about a new study highlighting that patients taking drugs like alendronate for osteoporosis might weaken rather than strengthen bones. The National Osteoporosis Society, with our expert clinical advisers, has produced a response to this so that people with the condition can make an informed decision about their treatment. Radio 4’s The Today Programme and Inside Health have both covered this issue, and as a charity we have received calls from people with osteoporosis asking about treatments.

Juliet Compston, Emeritus Professor of Bone Medicine at the University of Cambridge and a member of the National Osteoporosis Society’s Clinical & Scientific Committee, said that although the study was interesting, it was a very small sample and the early findings need to be confirmed by further research. She emphasised anyone taking bisphosphonates should not stop taking their medication as a result of the study.

“While the data should stimulate further studies they do not provide sufficient evidence to change clinical practice and people at high risk of fracture should be reassured that the benefits of treatment, at least up to five years, and probably up to 10, outweigh the risks.”

Read the full story here.

Organise a coffee and cake morning on Friday 12th May for Fibromyalgia Awareness Day!

The 12th May is recognised as the international fibromyalgia awareness day. Charities and groups around the world will be organising events to increase awareness of the condition. Why not celebrate with us and raise awareness by organising a coffee and cake event? This could be with your family and friends in your home, in your workplace, in a local cafe or even a picnic in the park.

We would encourage local fibromyalgia support groups and our supporters to organise coffee and cake mornings up and down the country. If it is your local support group meeting, then why not ask partners and friends to come along, extending the reach of the support group on International awareness day.

Requesting resources for your event

If you wish to order resources such as leaflets, booklets and posters about fibromyalgia, please ensure you place your order (free of charge) prior to Friday 28th April 2017, so that we can get them out to you in time. Orders must be completed via the resources form at Orders received after Friday 28th April 2017 cannot be guaranteed to reach you in time for your event.

If you plan to fundraise for Fibromyalgia Action UK, we can also send to you other resources to help with your fundraising efforts! For fundraising support, please contact or visit

After the event

We hope that your event is successful, and if there is something to share afterwards, such as photographs and a summary of the day, then please get in touch with us. We can then share with others how your event went on our website, Facebook and Twitter. Please send any information to:

A group of senior delegates from the NHS Health Literacy Collaborative Group visited the Haywood Hospital in late February to look at the Patient Information and Resource Centre, (PIER) and see what effect its presence has had on the health literacy of patients and carers using the hospital.

NHS delegation photo

Mike Oliver, third right and June Brammar, fourth from left, with NHS Health Literacy Collaborative Group members and PIER volunteers. [click for full size photo]

Based within the outpatients’ area of the Haywood Hospital, the PIER, which opened in October 2015, provides patients, their families and carers with access to information on arthritis and related conditions. Visitors have access to a range of printed and online material in modern comfortable surroundings.

The group had a presentation on the PIER by June Brammar, project manager rheumatology, and had a chance to see the PIER and meet some of the 22 volunteers who help to run the centre.

June Brammar commented: “The visit was a great opportunity to showcase the PIER and the fantastic team of volunteers that bring it to life. The majority of the volunteers are former or current patients so they really have a grasp of what information and sign posting patients and carers are looking for.”

The visit was coordinated by Mike Oliver, the project manager for health literacy in Stoke-on-Trent’s Public Health team.

Disease Risk Reduction via Regular Physical Activity
Heart Disease 40%
Stroke 27%
Colon Cancer 25%
Breast Cancer 24%
Type 2 Diabetes 30%
Hypertension 50%
Source:  A Fresh Approach in Practice – NHS North West and the FSEM UK 2011

The Faculty of Sport and Exercise Medicine (FSEM) UK has responded to the Scottish Parliament Health and Sport Committee Preventative Agenda Inquiry, emphasising the risk reduction for many common conditions and the cost savings which can be made by greater use of Sport and Exercise Medicine (SEM) services in the NHS.

The FSEM’s response outlines why Sport and Exercise Medicine is uniquely placed to provide skilled services across both Exercise Medicine and Musculoskeletal Medicine which can vastly improve healthcare outcomes for many common conditions like arthritis, heart disease, cancer and mental health, through working with existing healthcare teams in the NHS.

Over a 10 year period, the NHS Tayside MSK Clinic, a Sport and Exercise Medicine led Musculoskeletal Medicine service running in Scotland, seeing approximately 800 patients per year, has created a £500k – £650k saving through re-directing traditional Orthopaedic referrals.

Read the full news item on the FSEM website

The National Osteoporosis Society is launching “A Message to My Younger Self” – an awareness campaign about keeping bones strong and health. It begins on 12th April 2017 and runs through to World Osteoporosis Day on 20th October. NOS want the generations to have a conversation about healthy bones, to talk about the steps that can be taken to make sure bones are strong, and to give a voice to the millions of people with the condition.

The campaign is being fronted by Liz Earle who is personally concerned about the impact of social media on the eating habits of her teenage children, backed-up by research that we have conducted showing that 20% of 18-24 year olds have reduced or completely cut out dairy from their diets, which could potentially be storing up problems for them in later life.

The campaign has three themes – nutrition, exercise, and “your message”.

First up is Nutrition (April and May); then Exercise (June, July and August including the 206 challenge – a sponsored walk hosted by Professor Alice Roberts on 11th June at Tyntesfield, a National Trust property near Bristol); and the initiative will end with “A Message to My Younger Self” on World Osteoporosis Day 20th October where celebrities, our supporters, ambassadors and our royal President will all be sharing messages to their younger selves and passing on tips and advice to the next generation.

The Back Pain Show – 19 & 20 May 2017

After a decade, The Back Pain Show has moved from Olympia London to St Andrews Birmingham, to give access to sufferers from the Midlands and the North of England. This iconic, two-day show is a hub for sufferers to meet doctors and therapists who provide treatment and manufacturers who supply both preventative and therapeutic equipment.

There are many causes of back pain including crush fractures of the spine which are usually caused by osteoporosis. These fractures are amazingly painful and take many months to ease. For a small donation to the charity BackCare – – at-risk visitors to show can have a two minute DEXA scan to determine their bone density. With lifestyle changes they can significantly decrease the risk of this disabling condition. The scanner uses the same amount of radiation found in a banana!

Lectures for both the public and professionals will be given by leading researchers in the field of back pain. Don’t miss this opportunity to book the professional lectures and fulfil CPD requirements. Both public and professionals can register for the event and book any of the talks and lectures, free of charge, at

For manufacturers, this is the once-a-year opportunity to show products to both the general public and professionals. With easy access (compared to the nightmare of London venues) and free parking, you should book your stand now before they are all snapped up as the number of stands is limited.

The show will host the AGM of the BackCare charity on Saturday afternoon. All members are welcome to come and meet the trustees and members of the research, publications and executive committees. Membership will be available at the charity’s stand at the entrance of the show. Come and support our unique charity supporting those with back and neck pain and preventing thousands of people from developing these disabling conditions.