Arthritis and Musculoskeletal Alliance
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.


ultrasound diagram

The European League Against Rheumatism, EULAR, has published a set of recommendations, which look at the use of imaging modalities in primary large vessel vasculitis, including giant cell arteritis and Takayasu arteritis.

The recommendations are intended to advise physicians on the use of imaging modalities (including ultrasound, magnetic resonance imaging, MRI, computed tomography, CT, and positron emission tomography, PET) when making a clinical diagnosis of large vessel vasculitis (LVV), and when to apply imaging for monitoring of disease activity and damage.

See the press release, Recommendations for the use of imaging in large vessel vasculitis in clinical practise [pdf] for detail and explanation. Accompanying the text is a diagram [credit to Christian Dejaco] showing example utrasound images of patients with large vessel vasculitis. Click here to see it in full size.

We all expect our healthcare to be safe, but mistakes can happen that may put patients at unnecessary risk.

This is the focus of the Safe Care Steering Group overseeing a James Lind Alliance priority setting partnership about safe care for adults with complex health needs, who have more than one condition or illness, or who need care from different teams and/or some care to be provided in their home.

On behalf of the Allied Health Professions Federation, Dr Jo Watson, RCOT’s Assistant Director – Education and Research, is part of this Steering Group. The aim of the partnership is to scope priorities in regards to safety and getting patients, carer, public and healthcare staff voices heard.

To this objective, the NIHR Imperial Patient Safety Translational Research Centre invites you to tell us about your concerns and which questions you would like to see answered through future research.

Please fill out this short survey which has been designed for patients, the public, carers and healthcare staff, via:

There is a printable copy of the survey available, together with a free post envelope label (which can be printed and stuck on a size C5 envelope).

Or if you would prefer a paper copy of the survey and envelope to be sent to you or have any questions, please contact or call 020 7594 3149.

Feel free to answer the questions as an individual or as a group with a specific interest in the area.

The questions which are raised will be ranked through a further survey to identify those which are the highest priority for future research. The organisation running the survey, the NIHR Imperial Patient Safety Translational Research Centre, will publicise the results to research funders and will aim to undertake research in some of the areas prioritised.

Please visit this website for more details.

The survey closes on at the end of February 2018.

The NHS England Transforming Elective Care programme has produced its first two handbooks. They suggest new referral and outpatient processes for elective musculoskeletal/orthopaedic services and elective gastroenterology services.

They draw on practical interventions developed and tested at various sites that took part in the programme’s early work. Each handbook is intended to provide practical, evidence-based advice on tested interventions to ensure people access care that is:

  • high quality
  • timely
  • appropriate
  • person-centred
  • equitable

The MSK handbook includes information on

  • MSK clinical review and triage
  • Standard referral templates
  • First contact practitioner
  • MSK self-management education
  • Patient passport
  • Telephone follow up

On 30th November 2017, the National Osteoporosis Society published new Osteoporosis Standards and Vertebral Fractures Guidance for Health Professionals. The guidelines help health professionals provide the possible care for people with osteoporosis.

Fizz Thompson, Clinical Director for the National Osteoporosis Society, said: “The National Osteoporosis Society plays a key role in driving positive change in healthcare provision for people affected by fractures and osteoporosis, and these new documents – developed with clinical experts over a two year period – demonstrate how the Charity is setting the agenda in this area.

“The new guidance will raise awareness of the clinical significance of fractures among all clinicians and managers, and highlights the importance of undertaking further investigation and starting treatment in a timely way.”

View the documents here on the NOS website.

by Mark Brandreth, NOA Lead CEO and
CEO of the Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital NHS Foundation

As the new lead CEO for the National Orthopaedic Alliance (NOA), I am proud to be part of a group of organisations and people who are working to drive improvements in orthopaedic care nationwide. I’m pleased to have been given the opportunity to contribute a guest blog to ARMA’s newsletter to share an update on our work with you. At Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital (RJAH), our work with the NOA, and its vanguard work in particular, is vital to our future – and to the future of orthopaedic care received by patients across the country.

Ultimately, the NOA wants to improve the services that its members provide and through the vanguard project, create a framework (or pathway) others can follow leading to consistent high quality care for patients across the country. The objectives of the vanguard are:

  1. Agree what good looks like in orthopaedics and set a formal quality standard for this
  2. Recruit, assess and support members
  3. Grow membership across the country to spread provision of consistent high quality care
  4. Support the development of Quality Standards by members
  5. Support the development of a quality assured system for orthopaedic care

Progress with the vanguard to date has been centred on mobilising and recruiting members to help build our orthopaedic quality standards. Development of these standards is well underway and once launched will help ensure that patients, no matter where they are treated receive the same quality of care and are looked after using the same evidence-based, reliable and safe processes.

The success of the NOA so far has been driven by input from members and we are ever grateful for their support. Just recently, members contributed to producing The NOA Short Guide to Clinical Coding for Clinicians – a useful guide to help address an area needing attention across many NOA member organisations. More detailed guidance, including the full NOA suite of standards will be available to members once the vanguard launches its quality standards.

I for one am proud to be part of this movement. If you want to find out more about the NOA vanguard work, I encourage you to read the latest newsletter here. You can also follow @NOA_Vanguard on Twitter.

The RCN Rheumatology Forum would like to report that in September 2017 the 4th edition of the RCN Biologics guidance document for Rheumatology Practitioners went live: “Assessing, managing and monitoring Biologic therapies for Inflammatory Arthritis

It is available online now as a downloadable PDF via our link:

Strategy Day

On the 17th Nov 2017 the RCN Rheumatology Forum are planning to meet for a (self-funded) Strategy Day where future projects and final details of the forthcoming RCN Rheumatology Nursing Workshop will be discussed.

The RCN Rheumatology Nursing Workshop 2018

This best-practice event is to be held at the RCN HQ on the 12th January 2018, starting at 11am and finishing around 3pm.

Topics include:

  • patient fatigue
  • pain
  • leadership and resilience training
  • psychological impact of chronic disease
  • Biosimilars update and how they impact on practice
  • Rheumatology Specialist Nursing Competency frameworks.

This workshop has been developed and based on the results of a forum survey which asked you to identify issues relating to the management of rheumatological disease, interventions, treatment and support.

The aim of the workshop is to address these issue as well as developing the unmet need of clinical leadership skills and personal and professional resilience. This event will enable specialist nurses to continue to deliver excellent care, follow best practice and inspire colleagues despite continued NHS barriers and difficulties.

The British Orthopaedic Association (BOA) is pleased to announce the recent publication of four revised commissioning guides with the Royal College of Surgeons of England. These NICE-accredited guides set out best practice care pathways to assist CCGs in designing optimal care for their populations. We are extremely grateful to all those involved in the rigorous development and accreditation processes. The guides, which can be found here, are:

  • Pain Arising from the Hip in Adults
  • Painful Deformed Great Toe in Adults
  • Painful Osteoarthritis of the Knee
  • Treatment of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Following the recent BOA and ARMA position statements on the rationing of elective orthopaedic services, we are urging stakeholders to consider these guides and to promote their adoption wherever appropriate with local CCGs. The use of these guides will assist CCGs to deliver high quality care in each of these pathways.

If you have any further questions, please contact

Arthritis and musculoskeletal conditions affect the bones, joints and muscles, and burdens the lives of so many people.

Musculoskeletal conditions are now the UK’s the biggest cause of pain and disability, accounting for an astounding one-in-five of all visits to the GP. Furthermore, trends indicate that more people than ever will be affected by MSK disorders in the coming years, which is why preventing them has never been more important. For this reason, the Arthritis and Musculoskeletal Alliance (ARMA), an alliance of prominent health charities, professional and research bodies, has produced a Policy Position Paper on Prevention of Musculoskeletal conditions.

The position paper highlights that a transformation is needed so that the care and public health systems go beyond merely tackling musculoskeletal conditions when they arise, to promoting good, lifelong musculoskeletal health. At every age people should be supported to maintain and improve the health of their joints, bones and muscles.

For more information about preventing musculoskeletal conditions, and to get involved in ARMA’s work, please get in touch via and Twitter @WeAreARMA.


In early August, ARMA has published a Policy Position Paper titled:

‘Rationing’ Access to Joint Replacement Surgery and Impact on People with Arthritis and Musculoskeletal Conditions [document opens in pdf]

It deals with the damaging nature of thresholds and scoring tools, the problems of waiting times and restricted access to surgery, and how patients with musculoskeletal conditions are affected.

The Alliance is drawing attention to worrying trends in treatment access and the paper makes clear the key outcomes we are seeking from CCGs and the NHS.

In July LUPUS UK released the newest edition in their range of publications, ‘LUPUS: Bone Health & Osteoporosis’.

The factsheet was kindly written by Dr David Armstrong (Consultant Rheumatologist, Altnagelvin Hospital, Londonderry).

This factsheet can be downloaded from the LUPUS UK website at and physical copies are available from the National Office in Romford.

The latest guidance is out for the prescription and monitoring of non-biologic disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs). It’s aimed at primary and secondary care practitioners managing patients with rheumatic disease in the UK.

Significant updates include:

(1) Harmonisation of monitoring schedules, recommending that all DMARDs that require laboratory monitoring follow the same frequency of testing

(2) More nuanced discussion of the use of methotrexate in lung disease is provided, drawing from the two large meta-analyses recently published.

(3) Significant change is made regarding the evaluation of retinal toxicity for hydroxychloroquine users:

Lead author Dr James Galloway, Senior Clinical Lecturer at King’s College London says:
“These updates have two major focuses: firstly, streamlining monitoring schedules wherever possible, given the myriad of different regimens across drugs, and most of the schedule variations were somewhat arbitrary in their origins; second, to review and incorporate the evidence base available, acknowledging several key publications that have emerged since the first guidance. The update provides an accessible and useful tool for primary and secondary care prescribers of anti-rheumatic therapies.”

View the full guideline online.

New strategy

On behalf of the Board of Trustees, we are delighted to share our new vision for how the society will operate. As a membership organisation, our primary duty is to put our members first in everything that we do.

With a focus on communication, transparency and collaboration, this strategy will enhance our ability to provide a wide and valuable range of resources to you over the next three years and beyond.

View the strategy online.

5 New scientific outputs from the Rheumatoid Arthritis register

The Biologics Registers have started 2017 with a surge of scientific outputs that’ll be of interest to Multi-Disciplinary Teams and their patients. After only three months there are already five outputs – four papers and one letter. They came out in a variety of journals and cover a broad range of the evidence needed for decision making, the risk of lymphoma, the relationship between exposure to anti-TNFs and the incidence and severity of MI, drug specific risk and characteristics of lupus and vasculitis-like events and the use and effectiveness of tocilizumab. The Letter was on pregnancy outcomes in women.

View the full references to of these publications online.

Rheumatology 2017 Conference

There are just a few weeks remaining until the UK’s leading rheumatology event returns to Birmingham, 25-27 April.

Registrations close 12 April 23.45 GMT – don’t miss out!

Register here.

Rheumatoid Arthritis supplement

To help raise the awareness of Arthritis Week last week, BSR and NRAS have come together to produce a supplement focusing on Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA). The supplement was featured in The Guardian, bringing attention to the public about the impacts and implications that RA can have on people’s everyday lives.

Inside there’s articles from Laura Guest, Chief Executive Officer of BSR, Alisa Bosworth MBE, Chief Executive of NRAS, Dr Peter Lanyon, BSR President, Dr Jill Firth, BHPR President and much more! View the online supplement of Rheumatoid Arthritis online.

RCN Consultation Response to the Prime Minister

Last week a coalition of over 20 healthcare bodies, which included BHPR, and coordinated by the Royal College of Nursing, wrote an open letter to the Prime Minister calling on the Government to halt its plans to reform student funding for nursing, midwifery and allied health professionals (AHPs). The letter warned that these proposals, which include the introduction of student loans for student nurses, risk reducing the supply of future nurses, midwives and AHPs at a time when they are needed more than ever – and the letter asked him to fully consider the impact on patient care in England.

BSR is coordinating its own response to the consultation on the proposals, if you’re interested, please email Anna Lewis.
Members can also view the letter to the Prime Minister online.

New Guideline published

BSR and BHPR guideline for the treatment of systemic sclerosis was published last week in Rheumatology. Scleroderma is a complex, multi-organ disease and this new comprehensive multidisciplinary guideline will help MDTs tackle it more effectively. Head to the Guideline section on the BSR website to view the executive summary and the full guideline.

Rheumatoid Arthritis – Guideline update

NICE has published the draft scope of the update rheumatoid arthritis guideline. You can view the draft scope online. BSR would be delighted if its members contributed to the BSR’s response, by emailing your comments on the draft guidance to Anna Lewis, by 04 July 2016. NICE are also recruiting members of the rheumatoid arthritis guideline committee. They’re recruiting three rheumatologists, two general practitioners (1 with a special interest in rheumatology), a specialist nurse, a pharmacist with a special interest in rheumatoid arthritis, an allied health professional and a radiologist (as a topic specific expert, co-opted to the committee). Visit the NICE website for further details on the roles and application process.

BSR Regional Chair vacancy

A vacancy has become available for a individual to join as the West Midlands Regional Chair. The position will be responsible for supporting BSR members within the West Midlands regions while working closely with BHPR and co-opted Regional Lead Representatives. Full details and how to apply can be found on the BSR website.

Autumn Conference 2016

Bath Assembly Rooms | 13-16 October Thank you to everyone who submitted a case study for this year’s conference. We received a high calibre covering the four topics:

  • Raynaud’s disease – Convened by Prof Ariane Herrick
  • Spondyloarthropthies – Convened by Prof Walter Maksymowych
  • Vasculitis – Convened by Dr David Jayne
  • Infection and arthritis – Convened by Prof Robert Moots

Remember you can save on your conference ticket by booking online before 03 July 2016.

Calling for donations!

BSR’s Heberden Library has a historical record of medico-historical books on rheumatism, gout and other allied conditions. It is important to us that this record is kept up to date to help enable us to have a complete history of Rheumatology. To help ensure we have a wide range we invite you to donate any relevant books to the Heberden Library. This may be something you no longer use or something you have multiple copies of. We would love to hear about anything you would consider donating. Please email BSR with the title and author of the book so we can check it against our current list. For more information visit the Heberden Library online.

National clinical audit launch

On 25 July 2016 BSR will be launching the second phase of the National clinical audit report at the King’s Fund in London. The report will cover key findings, share best practice and discuss the future of the project. Limited places are available, to confirm yours please email Rose David by 07 July 2016.