This is a category taken from the full feed of Musculoskeletal and Arthritis news provided by ARMA's members.

Arthritis News

by Sue Brown, CEO, ARMA

It’s been fantastic over the last few months to work with ARMA members to rise to the challenge of the Covid-19 pandemic. We now have to rise to a new challenge – resetting MSK services to be more personalised and to use shared decision making to ensure people receive the right treatment efficiently and effectively. ARMA’s vision for MSK and that discussed at the NHS England MSK leadership meetings are remarkably similar. Making that vision a reality will take the combined effort of all of us. ARMA has been working to ensure that we are up to the task.

We’ve introduced a new associate membership scheme to bring a wider range of stakeholders under our umbrella, whilst maintaining our role as the voice of patients and professionals. Our members are also launching new initiatives, like the Gold Standard Time to Diagnosis from the National Axial Spondyloarthritis Society (NASS) and the Versus Arthritis Impossible to Ignore Campaign. And for those of you who value our newsletter and webinars and have been asking how you can support us, we have launched a new supporter scheme.

Our conference in November will be a showcase for innovation before and during the pandemic. Read more about all these initiatives in this newsletter.

We will continue to enable our members to collaborate, to share information and expertise, to influence and promote good practice. We will continue to engage constructively with the many NHS workstreams aimed at driving forward improved MSK services. We will also challenge where we feel direction is not right, where patients are not listened to, where services are not personalised, when the right support isn’t available. We will continue to champion excellent MSK care wherever we find it.

At our AGM in July, ARMA members discussed what priorities we should focus on in future. Discussions ranged across ARMA as a patient voice, rehabilitation, a holistic approach to MSK health – physical and mental – and the critical importance of ensuring MSK is not forgotten in the restarting of services post-Covid. We also discussed diversity and what ARMA should be doing to highlight and address health inequalities.

I’m looking forward to seeing how far we can take this. We need to do more than ensure that MSK is not forgotten. We need to see MSK leading the way.

Study suggests women and young people have been hardest hit psychologically by coronavirus lockdown

A new study, published in The Lancet Psychiatry, has looked at the potential impact of the coronavirus pandemic on population mental health.

  • It found that there was an overall increase in mental distress in people aged 16 years and older in the UK.
  • This did not affect all groups equally, with some subgroups showing marked increases. Factors most strongly linked with mental health deterioration were those associated with pre-existing health inequalities, such as gender and age.
  • Other factors were unique to the circumstances, such as being a keyworker.
  • The study found that being young, a woman, and living with children had a particularly strong influence on the extent to which mental distress increased.
  • Additionally, the increase in mental distress relative to previous trends was greater among those who were employed before the pandemic. This is likely due to a loss in income, furlough or a shift to homeworking.
  • The authors suggested that it is reasonable to expect the emergence of long-term effects of economic recession on mental health, such as increasing suicide rates and hospital admissions for mental health.
  • The study suggests that these problems are not necessarily new, but instead could result in pre-existing mental health inequalities becoming more entrenched.


Help end the 8.5-year delay in the diagnosis of axial SpA (AS)

A new programme that aims to end the 8.5-year delay to diagnosis for people living with axial Spondyloarthritis (axial SpA) was launched on 15 July 2020.

Gold Standard Time to Diagnosis will set the world’s first Gold Standard to reduce the average time to diagnosis in axial SpA (AS) to just one year. The consultation process, which is phase one of the programme, was launched at the All-Party Parliamentary Group on axial Spondyloarthritis.

Currently 1 in 20 adults in the UK live with axial SpA (AS), a painful and progressive form of inflammatory arthritis.

The programme is led by the National Axial Spondyloarthritis Society (NASS) in partnership with Norfolk & Norwich NHS Foundation Trust and RUH Bath NHS Foundation Trust. It is funded by UCB, who has no editorial control.

The consultation sets out a pathway that tackles the four most common causes of a delay in diagnosis for axial SpA (AS):

  • Lack of public awareness of the condition, meaning a person with persistent back pain simply thinks it is a sport or work-related injury or they have sprained their back in some other way. The programme will address this with public awareness campaigns and online tools to help people identify relevant symptoms.
  • GPs and other primary care professionals not necessarily considering axial SpA (AS) as a differential diagnosis. The programme will address this by creating primary care clinical champions in axial SpA (AS) who will help their peers recognise the condition faster and make a referral to a rheumatologist.
  • GPs recognising that someone has serious symptoms but not considering rheumatology as a referral pathway. The programme will look at ways to introduce a faster pathway for a direct referral to rheumatology.
  • Rheumatologists and radiologists requiring further information on best imaging for the detection of axial SpA (AS). The programme will promote education, the promotion of imaging protocols and the take up of innovative virtual imaging services.

The Gold Standard will be launched in December 2020 and rolled out from 2021 onwards.

The consultation closes on 22 August 2020. If you would like to take part, please visit the NASS website NASS website.

About Gold Standard Time to Diagnosis

Gold Standard Time to Diagnosis is led by National Axial Spondyloarthritis Society (NASS) in partnership with Norfolk & Norwich NHS Foundation Trust and RUH Bath NHS Foundation Trust.

The programme is funded by UCB as sponsor of the project. UCB is a non-voting member of the project board and has no editorial control over the content or output of the programme.


Since 2019, NRAS has been working hard on improving information provision to members, supporters and the wider Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (JIA) community. 

The latest publications, updates and activities for JIA-at-NRAS represent a huge support resource for those who need it. A priority for NRAS – and an expectation from those they support – is an easy-to-navigate, user friendly, informational website, because this is the primary route for people to discover the organisation.

NRAS is excited to launch the new and improved JIA-at-NRAS website!

There has been a lot of work and consideration put into this newly designed website, including taking feedback from a focus group back in August. This allowed us to put the thoughts and feelings of our users at the forefront, ensuring we are effectively providing the information important to them in the best way possible. We are particularly proud of our new smart search tool called the ‘Resource Hub’, which allows you to search the website more efficiently. Navigation has been greatly improved, making it clear on each section of the site what you will find, and where to find what you need.

I am thrilled to see months of hard work coming to fruition as the new JIA-at-NRAS website goes live. As a small charity moving our two websites on to a new platform was a major undertaking. Slightly delayed due to the pandemic but still delivered to the highest standard. We truly hope you will find navigating the new website easy and the various new features more interactive and responsive. A huge well-done to the entire team at NRAS but especially Shivam, Will, Anita and Emma and the team at 93 Digital, the website agency,” said Clare Jacklin, NRAS CEO.

Please take this opportunity to explore the new site, and feel free to send NRAS any feedback.


A new COVID-19 rapid guideline: arranging planned care in hospitals and diagnostic services NICE guideline [NG179] has been released by NICE. The publication makes recommendations for how these services should be organised to balance the risks associated with covid-19 and the potential harms that could arise from delays in elective treatment and diagnostic procedures.

The guidance states that people having planned care involving any form of anaesthesia and sedation should follow social distancing and hand hygiene measures for 14 days prior to admission – a change from 14 days of self-isolation. For elective surgery, patients need to take a covid-19 test three days before surgery, and self-isolate for three days prior to surgery.


People with arthritis can’t ignore their pain. Let’s make sure the Government doesn’t, either. 

This is why Versus Arthritis has launched the Impossible to Ignore campaign, calling on politicians and policy-makers to address the needs of people with arthritis. Now, your support is needed to demand change.

For many people, lockdown has made living with arthritis even harder. With appointments, treatments and joint replacement surgery delayed, people with arthritis face worsening pain and impacts to their physical and mental health that are impossible to ignore. 

Nearly half of the 6,000 people Versus Arthritis surveyed said that their arthritis appointments have been cancelled over the pandemic. Planned surgery has also been affected, with hundreds of thousands of people with arthritis waiting for joint replacement operations. They are struggling in agony, often without information about when they can expect to be treated.

UK governments need to understand that the pain of arthritis is impossible to ignore. Plans need to be in place to resume surgery safely, and assurances that people with arthritis waiting for joint replacements have not been forgotten. 

Please visit for more information and to sign the petition.



ARMA has launched a new Associate Membership scheme to enable a wider range of stakeholders to engage with our activities.

It is important that our work is driven by the needs of patients, clinicians and researchers and is independent of commercial interests. However, we recognise that there are many stakeholders not eligible for ARMA membership who play an important role in musculoskeletal health, whose involvement would be mutually beneficial. Associate membership of ARMA provides a way for such organisations to engage with our work.

Ben Wilkins of Good Boost, our first Associate Member said, “This is a great initiative to create cross-sector connections and collaboration to tackle the biggest challenges in MSK.”

We are delighted to have welcomed Good Boost as our first associate member, and we look forward to greater engagement with similar stakeholders in the future.

If you know of an organisation that might be interested in associate membership, full details are on our website.

report coverThe report emergent from Baroness Cumberlege and the Independent Medicines and Medical Devices Safety review was published in early July and has been welcomed by the British Orthopaedic Association. This comprehensive review has demonstrated the impact on the physical and mental health of patients when implants fail. The review shows that there is a clear need for detailed surveillance of implants, and we welcome the recommendation for the establishment of more National Implant Registries.

Read the BOA’s full position on this issue.

The BOA also continues to update their website with information for both patients and health professionals regarding COVID and its impact on trauma and orthopaedics. This information specifically for patients can be found on the FAQs for Patients page, and wider information is available via the Information for BOA Members page.