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 33 member organisations ranging from specialised support groups for rare diseases to major research charities and national professional bodies.

About ARMA

Could you be the new treasurer of ARMA? This is an ideal opportunity for someone who wishes to gain experience of serving as a charity treasurer. As a small charity, ARMA’s finances are relatively straightforward, so you don’t necessarily need to be a highly qualified accountant. The skills and knowledge required might have been gained through financial qualifications, running a business or previous treasurer experience.

An interest in improving health services is desirable, but we do not require any previous experience of working in health services. Similarly, an interest in or experience of musculoskeletal conditions such as arthritis would be an advantage but is not essential.

ARMA Trustees are appointed for an initial three-year term and after that are eligible to stand for a further three-year term. This is an unpaid honorary post. Board meetings take place on a quarterly basis and you will be expected to give your time for four meetings, three of which are online and one of which takes place in London. Reasonable expenses are reimbursed. As Treasurer you will also monitor the finances monthly and raise any concerns, report to Board meetings and provide advice on an ad hoc basis to staff. You will not be required to do the bookkeeping and will receive monthly management accounts from the accountant. You will liaise with the Chief Executive in preparation for Board meetings.

For more information, contact

BASRaT, the British Association of Sport Rehabilitators has joined ARMA and we are delighted to welcome them on board.

As the UK regulator, BASRaT guides Sport Rehabilitators on all aspects of their role and responsibilities, ensuring professional competency and continued professional development. BASRaT’s mission is to champion, raise awareness and support areas of growth within the profession.

BASRaT works hard to promote the benefits of Sport Rehabilitation and awareness of the profession. Sport Rehabilitators aid people with musculoskeletal pain, injury or illness. They help people to maintain their health and fitness, recover from and prevent injury and reduce pain using exercise, movement and therapy.

We look forward to working with the BASRaT team.

Musculoskeletal support professionals in the community

by Dr Rob Hampton, GP and Occupational Physician

Across the world, chronic musculoskeletal conditions such as osteoarthritis, inflammatory disorders and common regional conditions such as back, neck, shoulder, hip and knee pain now represent the single greatest cause of years lived with disability 1. When measuring their negative impact on employment, self-reported wellbeing and day-to-day function, chronic musculoskeletal pain conditions are every bit as invasive as other chronic conditions such as heart failure, diabetes and COPD. People with chronic conditions increasingly have access to dedicated, usually nurse-led services that provide support with exacerbations and link the patient to GP and secondary care when required. Even the traditional ‘Cinderella’ conditions of dementia and mental health now benefit from improved recognition and coordinated care. I would argue that chronic musculoskeletal conditions are now the true Cinderella in the UK, a fact recognised by NHS England through their partnership with the Arthritis and Musculoskeletal Alliance (ARMA) called the MSK Knowledge Network. Its focus is on bringing knowledge and people together to improve outcomes for people with MSK conditions in England.

There are several projects that show the value of community-based support for people with musculoskeletal problems. The Joint Pain Advisor pilot in South London 2 is an example of the power of professional support to help people adapt to chronic pain problems and reduce demands on healthcare resources, particularly GPs. The power to encourage self-care and de-medicalise chronic musculoskeletal pain have been cornerstones of pioneering services such as the Back Pain Programme in South Tees 3 and the Pain to Prospects Programme in Leicester 4. These services win awards, are reproducible beyond the pilot phases and could provide a level of support to the people with chronic musculoskeletal conditions similar to that for conditions such as heart failure, diabetes and COPD. My impression is that the biopsychosocial approach required is just ‘not medical enough’ to receive CCG funding but ‘too medical’ to attract financing from the social or welfare sector.

Will the evolution of Primary Care Networks announced in January 2019 through the NHS long-term plan provide the right environment for ongoing community based musculoskeletal support? Let’s hope so. If ARMA take up this cause with NHS England, progress can be made.


  1. Global Burden of Disease Study 2013 Collaborators. (2015) Global, regional, and national incidence, prevalence, and years lived with disability for 301 acute and chronic diseases and injuries in 188 countries, 1990–2013: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2013. Lancet 386:743–800. 
  2. A Walker, R Williams, F Sibley, D Stamp, A Carter, M Hurley. (2017) Improving access to better care for people with knee and/or hip pain: service evaluation of allied health professional‐led primary care. Musculoskeletal Care.
  3. NHS England (2017) National Low Back and Radicular Pain Pathway 2017, Together with Implementation Guide (accessed January 2019).
  4. Hampton R. (2013) From Pain to Prospects? – helping people on welfare benefits with chronic pain. Pain News. 2013;11(4):227 –230.

More people, more active, more often: three perspectives on physical activity and musculoskeletal health

21 November 2018

Introduced by Sue Brown ARMA CEO and Liam O’Toole, CEO, Versus Arthritis, who partnered with ARMA for the flagship lecture, the three presenters delivered speeches that did not disappoint the rapt audience of health professionals, commissioners, patients, public and NHS health officials and, of course, parkrunners. The discussion about how to overcome the barriers to activity faced by people with musculoskeletal conditions ranged from big-picture societal issues to practical hows-to. 

Michael Brannan, Physical Activity Programme Manager, Public Health England said that strength, balance and co-ordination were often referred to as the ‘forgotten guidelines’ included in the Chief Medical Office Physical Activity Guidelines. While two-thirds of men and half of women achieve the cardiovascular elements of the CMO guidelines, a much smaller proportion meet the strengthening, balance and coordination elements of the CMO guidelines. 

Claire Harris, Physiotherapist from NASS, spoke of the general and specific barriers people face to activity, such as time, transport – especially for people in rural communities – fatigue, financial problems, family support, pain, stiffness, disability, low self-esteem, disability and co-morbidities and how to overcome these, for example, motivational interviewing. 

Nick Pearson, CEO of the popular weekly parkrun, was thought-provoking and unafraid to challenge the status quo. He said, “Many populations most at risk of life-impacting, disabling health conditions are the populations most likely to be inactive, doubling down on their risk levels and potentially creating a ‘health underclass’; these populations are exposed to the highest environment and social risk factors, cut adrift and deprived of the vast majority of health initiatives and interventions. Parkrun has been able to cut through some of these structural, political, and social challenges.”  

The panel then considered questions such as how some of the success of Parkrun could be imitated, followed by audience questions. 

In case you missed it, or want to see it again, the recording of the event is available here.

Twitter, with vlogs from attendees, was popular at the event, you can see the range of tweets and vlogs on #MSKactivity.

Over the last few months ARMA has been working with members on a new strategy, setting out more clearly what we work on and how we work in collaboration with our members. We will work in those areas where collaboration will have bigger impact than any single organization working alone. Through greater clarity and focus we expect to achieve greater impact. If you are reading this and thinking that your professional body or patient organisation isn’t a member but really should be part of this, encourage them to join.

ARMA is an umbrella body representing the breadth of musculoskeletal conditions and professions.  

Our vision for musculoskeletal (MSK) health: 

  • The MSK health of the population is promoted throughout life; 
  • Everyone with MSK conditions receives appropriate, high quality interventions to promote their health and well-being in a timely manner. 


We engage with: 

Public Policy 

Desired impact:  

  • Integrated approaches to MSK are included in all policy. 


Services (commissioning)

Desired impact: 

  • Evidence-informed MSK pathways are in place 
  • MSK health is recognised and prioritised. 


Policy delivery and practice 

Desired impact:  

  • Evidence based Interventions are being delivered 
  • Person-centred, integrated MSK care is being delivered. 
  • There is an improvement focus, with innovation, spread and quality improvement at the heart of provision. 


ARAM logoThe Arthritis and Musculoskeletal Alliance (ARMA) is seeking to expand our trustee board to bring in people from different professional backgrounds. This is the ideal opportunity for someone who wishes to gain experience of serving at board level with an interest in improving health services for people with arthritis and other musculoskeletal conditions. We are looking for trustees with a business or fundraising background to complement our existing board’s strengths in health provision and charity management.

ARMA is an umbrella body bringing together 35 member organisations, ranging from specialised support groups for rare diseases to major research charities and national professional bodies. Our vision is of an effective and unified MSK community working together to improve the lives of people with MSK conditions. We do this in partnership with our member organisations, by shaping policy and best practice. We have very strong links with NHS England and Public Health England. Our activities are not aimed at the general public, but we have strong recognition amongst relevant professionals and policy makers.

We seek to diversify the experience of our trustee board by co-opting two trustees. ARMA Trustees are appointed for an initial three-year term and after that are eligible to stand for a further three-year term. This is an unpaid honorary post. Board meetings take place on a quarterly basis and you will be expected to give your time for 4 meetings. Reasonable expenses are reimbursed. You must also be willing to provide advice on an ad hoc basis and serve on sub committees as appropriate.

If you would like to join the ARMA Board and think you have the appropriate skills and expertise, please contact us for more information or for an informal conversation. Please telephone 020 3856 1977 or email

See our incumbent trustees on our Governance page.

Between 20 and 30% of a GP caseload is made up of patients with musculoskeletal (MSK) conditions; by expanding the availability of physiotherapy in general practice, GP time is freed up and patients are put in the driving seat, receiving the right care from the right professional. Physiotherapists are experts regarding MSK issues and have the same high safety record as GPs.

There are already examples of experienced physiotherapists working alongside GPs as the first point of contact for MSK patients. These examples show high patient and GP satisfaction rates, decreased x-ray, MRI and orthopaedic referrals.

The CSP has produced a suite of documents on our new primary care landing page which explain the benefits of physiotherapy in primary care, these include:

  • Physiotherapy Works for Primary Care – a CSP policy briefing with the evidence and examples of this working in practice.
  • A short animation showing the benefits of physiotherapy in primary care.
  • Joint guidance for GPs, commissioners and physiotherapists about GP Physiotherapy roles, produced with the RCGP and the BMA.

You can access all of the above by visiting the CSP website at

Federico_375x567ARMA started July on all cylinders, with our AGM on the 4th of July and the election of four new Trustees to the ARMA Board, whose details are now on our Governance webpage. We were also delighted to have Dr. Martin McShane as our guest speaker this year. Martin, who is now Director of Medical Clinical Operations at Optum, is well-known to us from his previous role as Director for Long-Term Conditions NHS England: among other things, he gave the 2013 ARMA Annual Lecture, spoke at the 2014 MSK World Summit and also published a great blog on MSK ahead of our national seminar in January this year.

Among other things, Martin emphasised the importance of focusing on creating an effective healthcare system, where solutions come from teams working on the ground – which is why our MSK clinical networks project is so important. The old adage “think global, act local” springs to mind here. Martin also spoke at length about the need to measure impact, as opposed to activity and output, observing also that “our inability to link data is sustaining harm”. Shared decision-making, relational continuity (between clinicians as well as between clinicians and patients) and the alignment of physical and mental health were also identified as essential. For MSK as for other condition areas, having a compelling economic argument is key – and this is where resources like the FLS benefits calculator, or the CSP’s falls prevention and physiotherapy calculators, are of great value.

Martin also talked about the importance of celebrating our successes, and I think we as an Alliance have plenty to celebrate. For all the challenges ahead of us, it’s clear that our community is strong, and we are doing things which are making a difference and helping to drive the transformational change that is required to deliver a genuinely sustainable and person-centred NHS. Our increasingly productive partnership working with NHS RightCare offers a good example of how MSK can be a spearhead for delivering greater value across the system, and I’m delighted that Matthew Cripps is our guest blogger this month.

Our success as an Alliance is also underpinned by the great work continued to be carried out by many of our members, such as Arthritis Research UK’s excellent Working with Arthritis report and the BSR’s Second Annual Report of the National Clinical Audit for Rheumatoid and Early Inflammatory Arthritis, both published this past month.

Since taking up this role over four years ago, I have always said that ARMA is an Alliance for the entire MSK community, including both professional bodies and patient-led charities, and organisations spanning the breadth of MSK as well as those focused on specific conditions, including the many rare and complex autoimmune conditions which make up our community. Some conditions often thought of as “rare” are in fact a lot more common than most people think, nor are the solutions necessarily “complex”: take gout, for example, which affects 1 in 40 people in the UK, and where patient outcomes could be greatly improved just by measuring uric acid levels as a matter of course for anyone with the relevant symptoms, just as we regularly do for blood pressure and glucose levels.

“MSK” is always a tricky term but it does have real currency; it gives us profile, and it enables us to speak with one voice, which is something that all our external stakeholders, from government to local decision-makers, want from us. While there are many differences between the various MSK conditions, “bones, joints and muscles” is our overarching common denominator, and this allows us to not only influence outside of a purely clinical agenda to areas such as prevention, quality of life, and the increasingly important “work” agenda, but also to really take a person-centred perspective in everything we do. Our strength as an Alliance lies largely, in fact, in our variety – and our members in turn can draw benefit for their own areas from being part of a strong Alliance.

On this note, I’m also delighted to welcome a new member to ARMA: the British Medical Acupuncture Society.

One of the 3 main pillars of ARMA’s new 3-year strategic plan includes “Capturing, interpreting and enabling the application of MSK knowledge”, and to this end we have begun “mapping” our members’ activities, evidence and policies on key issues, with a view to developing a suit of policy positions on key themes. The first two focus on “MSK and work” and “MSK and physical activity”, and should be available soon.

Finally, we live in a digital age, and we are therefore actively looking at how we can improve our digital communications and improve our online user experience. We have sent out a survey to the users of the Yammer group to gauge their experience of this, and we are looking to streamline the ARMA website to make it more user-friendly.

Yours sincerely,





“We are all faced with a series of great opportunities brilliantly disguised as impossible situations.”