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


Chair of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal Alliance Receives Top Honor from American College of Rheumatology

Professor Tony Woolf was honored with the designation of Master by the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) during the 2017 ACR/ARHP Annual Meeting in San Diego. Recognition as a Master is one of the highest honors that the ACR bestows on its distinguished members.

The designation of Master is conferred on ACR members who have made outstanding contributions to the field of rheumatology through scholarly achievement and/or service to their patients, students, and the rheumatology profession and are age 65 or older. Honorees have devoted their careers to furthering rheumatology research and improving clinical standards in the treatment of rheumatic diseases.

 “It’s an honor to be recognized for my commitment to advancing the health of patients with rheumatic and musculoskeletal diseases in Cornwall, across the UK and also globally,” said Prof Woolf. “I am truly humbled to receive this designation and join the ranks of many distinguished rheumatologists.”

ACR Masters must be highly accomplished individuals. Evidence of their achievements can come from many types of endeavors and honors, such as research, education, health care initiatives, volunteerism, and administrative positions. The Master must be distinguished by the excellence and significance of his or her contributions to the science and art of rheumatology.

Prof. Tony Woolf was consultant rheumatologist, Royal Cornwall Hospital from 1987 until 2015 and is currently Clinical Director, National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) Clinical Research Network South West Peninsula.  His work has focused on reducing the impact of rheumatic and musculoskeletal conditions by influencing policy and practice nationally and internationally through evidence and advocacy. He works with and advises policymakers in UK, European Commission and WHO. The current focus is on the importance of musculoskeletal health in the workplace and in ageing populations.  Prof. Woolf is chair of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal Alliance and has held leading positions within various national, European and International organisations – immediate Past Chair and founder member of the Global Alliance for Musculoskeletal Health; past Chair, National Osteoporosis Society UK; past member of EULAR Executive Committee as chair of the Education and Training Standing Committee; and past President UEMS (European professional organisation for rheumatology).  He has been appointed Honorary Professor of Rheumatology to University of Exeter Medical School and Plymouth University Peninsula Schools of Medicine and Dentistry, and was visiting Professor in Musculoskeletal Science, Faculty of Medicine, Lund University, Sweden, 2008–2014.

About the American College of Rheumatology

The American College of Rheumatology is an international medical society representing over 9,400 rheumatologists and rheumatology health professionals with a mission to empower rheumatology professionals to excel in their specialty. In doing so, the ACR offers education, research, advocacy and practice management support to help its members continue their innovative work and provide quality patient care. Rheumatologists are experts in the diagnosis, management and treatment of more than 100 different types of arthritis and rheumatic diseases. For more information, visit

NHSE/ARMA Webinar Gains Traction on YouTube

The “Sport, Exercise and Musculoskeletal Training in the NHS” webinar has received almost 300 views on YouTube; please continue to share and promote this important resource which highlights physical inactivity as the largest public health problem of the 21st century and outlines how Exercise Medicine and Musculoskeletal Medicine, delivered within the NHS, can have a positive impact on public health. View the Webinar here.


FSEM (UK) Responds to Draft WHO Global Action Plan on Physical Activity

The Faculty of Sport and Exercise Medicine (UK) has responded to a recent consultation by the World Health Organisation on physical activity. The Faculty’s key points cover: the scale of action needed to address physical inactivity across the globe; coherence of policy on physical activity in the UK; consistency in teaching and supporting health professionals to talk to their patients about physical activity; and how the plan addresses hard-to-reach and vulnerable groups and giving physical activity in schools equal prominence to academic subjects. Read the Faculty’s full response here.


FSEM (UK) Responds to NICE Consultation Update on Physical Activity and the Environment

The Faculty of Sport and Exercise Medicine (UK) has made recommendations on the NICE guideline which covers how to improve the physical environment to encourage and support physical activity. Expected to be published in March 2018, the FSEM (UK) response supports; active travel and the creation of new cycle and footpaths, asks that all health professionals receive mandatory training on the benefits of physical activity and how to prescribe physical activity safely to their patients, including those with a disability, utilising the local resources available to them and recommends that every school child, from school entry to leaving, should have at least 30 minutes of structured physical activity during every school day.

The UK Gout Society recently attended the 7th European Symposium of the Societal Impact of Pain (SIP 2017) in Malta, organised by the European Pain Federation (EFIC), Pain Alliance Europe, the Active Citizen Network and Grünenthal.
The event brought together stakeholders from across the EU and MSK community – and provided a platform to raise awareness of the impact of pain, exchange ideas and information, develop consensus and policy strategies, and debate pain as a quality indicator for healthcare systems.

One-in-five adults in the EU are currently living with chronic pain. Direct and indirect healthcare spending on chronic varies between 2-3 percent of GDP across the member states. With more than 500 million sick days per year in Europe, musculoskeletal pain alone causes almost 50 percent of all absences from work. Yet chronic pain remains poorly managed and under-treated – not only affecting individuals living with pain, and the people close to them – but society at large.

There were a wide variety of informative and inspiring workshops and plenary sessions at the conference. These included presentations by advocacy groups, such as AGORA (the coalition of 19 southern European rheumatic and musculoskeletal disease patient organisations), Fibromyalgie France (French Fibromyalgia Association), and Arthritis Care Scotland; as well as lead clinicians, educational institutions, the Spanish Ministry of Health, European Medicines Agency, the German Pain Society, Fit for Work and the European Commission. MEPs also took an active part in debates – offering attendees to email them directly with questions regarding chronic pain for the European Parliament.

Despite the disparate speakers and content, common themes were apparent throughout the conference. Calls for a cross-functional approach to tackling chronic pain were echoed across many of the working group presentations and plenary sessions. Patients, doctors, insurers employers, policy makers and politicians need to work together to push chronic pain up the political and healthcare agenda. The need for structured cooperation between healthcare systems across Europe to tackle the societal impact of pain was deemed to be imperative – as well as the need for greater research and surveillance.

Another important topic was the role of terminology in ‘making or breaking’ patient access to medicines and health services. Is chronic pain a disease in its own right – chronic primary pain – other than just co-existing with other conditions? There was also a report from the International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP) Task Force for the Classification of Chronic Pain and the current field testing of a new version of the WHO’s ICD-11 which now includes codes for chronic pain.

At the close of SIP 2017, Martin Seychell, Deputy Director General DG SANTE, European Commission, announced the launch of an expert group on the social impact of pain within the EU’s Policy Platform. He stated: “We cannot have a successful Europe without taking care of our most important asset – our people.”
Overall, it was clear from the conference that, while acute pain may reasonably be considered a symptom of disease or injury – chronic and recurrent pain is a specific healthcare problem. “The relief of pain should be a human right,” concluded the President of EFIC.

Following SIP2017, on 16th June, EU Health Ministers, under the leadership of the Maltese Presidency, called for a review of access to treatment for patients suffering from chronic pain.

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.


usbji-control-arthritisTo coincide with October’s World Arthritis Day, the U.S. Bone and Joint Initiative (USBJI) has released three new animated videos. These form part of their public education Experts in Arthritis programme, an exciting element to aid in their efforts to educate the public about taking control of Arthritis.

The videos can be seen at    

The goal of USBJI is to significantly increase the number of Americans who will become better educated about how to alter their lifestyle and take control of their Arthritis. 

Please help by sharing the videos with your professional network, your patients, the visiting public, and on social media. If you are interested in scheduling a live session of Experts in Arthritis in your community, register at, or email

who-world-health-org-squareThe Arthritis and Musculoskeletal Alliance, an alliance of prominent health charities, professional and research bodies, today [Thursday 15th September 2016] welcomed a ground-breaking World Health Organisation action plan to tackle a tidal wave of musculoskeletal conditions in Europe [1]. The Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of Noncommunicable Diseases in the WHO European Region, which was approved by WHO Europe’s Regional Committee today, includes specific priority actions by all European countries to stem the rise in musculoskeletal conditions and to improve overall health.

Musculoskeletal conditions affect the bones, muscles and joints, and are the single biggest cause of disability and pain across the UK. Together, they account for one in five visits to the GP[2], over £5 billion NHS spending every year and 30.6 million working days lost each year.

The Action Plan calls on all countries to build musculoskeletal health systems that allow timely access to person-centred care of musculoskeletal conditions, with a focus on early intervention and enabling people to self-manage effectively. The Action Plan also calls on countries in Europe to increase physical activity for all ages to reduce obesity and avoid injuries; introduce musculoskeletal health programmes for older people; promote bone, joint and muscle health through school and throughout people’s lives; and integrating musculoskeletal health with health promotion and occupational health in the workplace.

The Action Plan was also welcomed internationally by the Global Alliance for Musculoskeletal Health, which is working to make musculoskeletal health a priority. They call on all countries of the European Region to implement the Action Plan and all countries of the world to adopt a similar approach to tackling musculoskeletal conditions.

Professor Anthony Woolf, chair of the Arthritis and Musculoskeletal Alliance said:
“This is a landmark report because for years health policy across the world has ignored diseases which affect the lives of so many people and focussed on those with high mortality such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes. Now with people living longer it is time for priority to be placed on dealing with this enormous burden from neck and back pain, rheumatic, arthritis and musculoskeletal conditions to prevent unnecessary pain and disability and keep people independent. Despite effective ways of preventing and treating them, many people do not have access to them because they are not a priority. This Action Plan helps to redress the balance.”

Federico Moscogiuri, chief executive of ARMA, said:
“This WHO Action Plan offers the latest and strongest signal yet that effectively addressing the growing burden of MSK disorders is where some of the biggest wins lie for healthcare, social care and public health alike. ARMA calls on the UK government to take concrete steps to ensure that the steps outlined in the Action Plan are implemented in practice, and to support the Global Alliance for Musculoskeletal Health’s Call for Action.” [3]


[1] There are over 200 musculoskeletal conditions affecting the joints, muscles and bones, which include low back and neck pain, rarer autoimmune diseases, osteoarthritis and fractures. Musculoskeletal conditions are the biggest cause of disability and pain across the UK.
[2] Ref: Arthritis Research UK National Primary Care Centre, Keele University (2009), Musculoskeletal Matters.


For more information contact: Nita Parmar on 0203 856 1979 on Mon, Tues, Thurs / ARMA Office at other times on 0203 856 1978.

ARMA, the Arthritis and Musculoskeletal Alliance, is the alliance representing the arthritis and musculoskeletal community in the UK. Our members include major national patient-led charities, professional bodies and research organisations active in this area, as well as patient-led charities focusing on rare and complex musculoskeletal disorders. For a full list of member organisations, visit

WSD-spine-day-squareIt’s an initiative of the Global Alliance for Musculoskeletal Health that is coordinated each year by the World Federation of Chiropractic.

This year the theme is “Straighten Up and Move” which accords with evidence supporting optimum care for spinal disorders and the World Health Organization’s focus on physical activity as a way to combat a range of health disorders including cardiovascular disease, obesity and, of course, musculoskeletal disorders.

For information and resources about how organisations can get involved go to