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.


Arthur’s Place has created and launched “Project Mum” a support kit for young women with arthritis and related conditions, those who are considering becoming mothers in future, women who are currently pregnant and new mums. There will be advice for Dads-to-be and partners too, with or without arthritis.

Project Mum includes invaluable advice from health professionals, including consultant rheumatologists, nurse specialists, midwives, a physiotherapist, occupational therapist and three clinical psychologists. Arthur’s Place is also tremendously proud to include personal shared tips and advice from more experienced mums at Arthur’s Social: the Facebook community.

At the heart of Project Mum is a series of twelve short videos in which North East consultant rheumatologist Dr Martin Lee answers common questions that young women with arthritis have about conception, pregnancy, birth and early motherhood. Dr Lee covers fertility, medication considerations, symptoms during pregnancy, impact on labour, breastfeeding and more. We believe these videos are the first of their kind, and we hope our friends and HCP colleagues will signpost patients to them.

The hope is that Project Mum will reassure young women that motherhood is possible, and there is support available from others going through similar experiences. We also hope to inspire young women to think ahead about whether they would like children in future and discuss this with their doctor as early as possible in their treatment journey.

A new design and new features for Arthur’s Place

The launch of Project Mum is an opportunity to bring a fresh look to Arthur’s Place. The new design is as contemporary and visually striking as before, but the new layout will greatly improve the user experience on smart phones. Please do take a look.

As well as the new design, the blogs section has been relaunched to allow more young people with arthritis to contribute. It is now possible for everyone to share their story, and to contribute just a single written piece, photograph, piece of audio or short video. The goal is to create the richest and most diverse account of life with arthritis for people aged 18-35yrs, from around the world.

There is also Arthur’s Place TV, the YouTube channel devoted to curating the most relevant and trustworthy videos that we feel could be of benefit. This will also host the unique video content that A.P. plans to create, as and when funding allows.

Finally, the arthritis facts section has been updated to include the latest information and signposting to other services – in particular Versus Arthritis – plus launched a monthly newsletter. Arthur’s Place hopes you will subscribe to help spread the word about the fantastic community support and the range of content and tools available.

Harnessing the power of social media to promote public health

The Institute of Osteopathy (iO) has launched a new community Facebook page ‘Osteopathy for Health’ with the aim to provide the public with useful health advice and tips to support positive lifestyle behaviours.

The iO first launched ‘Osteopathy for Health’ as web-based information, supported by a series of advice leaflets that could be distributed by osteopaths and other healthcare practitioners. The project has now evolved to utilise the power of social media to spread health and lifestyle messages on exercise, diet, getting older, sleep, and mental health on a dedicated Facebook page ‘Osteopathy for Health’.

The iO team will be working on developing more advice and promoting these on social media in the coming weeks and months and encouraging osteopaths to promote these public health messages through their own online networks.

Osteopathy for Health advice for the public:

  • Online. General health advice to the public is available from the iO website. Topics range from healthy eating to information to persistent pain. In the next year we will be transforming these pages:
  • Social Media. Scroll Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for posts using #OsteopathyforHealth. You can search using the hashtag. Don’t forget: if you like it, share it!
  • Advice leaflets. The leaflets are available from the iO. To purchase copies please email

For more information about the Institute of Osteopathy’s ‘Osteopathy for Health’ public health advice programme, please contact

By Jill Hamilton, Professional Engagement Manager, National Ankylosing Spondylitis Society

Exercise is the single most important thing that anyone with axial SpA (AS) can do to self-manage their condition. It’s not always possible though; if someone is experiencing a flare or has severe physical disability as a result of their condition then exercising on land can be pretty much impossible. Exercising in water however is a lot easier; the warmth and the buoyancy make stretches more effective, it’s less painful, it’s easier to stay upright because the effect of gravity is less, it requires less physical effort and afterwards you usually have a really good night’s sleep!

In my time working at NASS I have had the privilege to see first-hand the benefits that people with axial spondyloarthritis (axial SpA) including ankylosing spondylitis (AS) have from being able to exercise in a hydrotherapy pool. Through our network of branches and local NHS services, people with axial SpA (AS) have been well looked after over the years.

I recall visiting one of our branches a while back and a member walked in whilst I was giving an update on what was happening at NASS. He came in clearly in the middle of a massive flare and looked completely crushed when he saw that we were sitting around talking. ‘Is there no hydrotherapy tonight?’ he asked, barely able to walk as his joints had stiffened up and the pain had taken over his body. At this point I stopped talking and said, ‘OK that’s enough from me, time for hydrotherapy everyone’. I knew from looking at him he couldn’t wait a minute longer – medication was having no effect and hydrotherapy was the only thing that was going to help him, even for just a few hours.

It saddens me that in recent years, the closure of hydrotherapy pools has become more common in NHS settings. Too often they are seen as a waste of money and an easy way for the trust or CCG to save some cash. It is a misunderstood form of treatment – to those who don’t use hydrotherapy it is a luxury; for those who do use it, it is essential to keep mobile and minimise pain.

NASS recently funded some research conducted by Melanie Martin, Advanced Physiotherapy Practitioner at Guy’s Hospital in London and Claire Jeffries, Physiotherapy Manager and Clinical Specialist in Hydrotherapy and Rheumatology at Queen Alexandra Hospital in Portsmouth, which looked at attitudes towards hydrotherapy. On average, people gave 7.7 out of 10 for how much hydrotherapy complemented their care overall.

Some of the recent comments that have been published by NHS trusts have been incredibly short-sighted. It seems that their view is, if it isn’t a cure, it’s not a valid treatment. Surgery and pharmacological interventions just aren’t possible for everyone though and so finding alternative forms of treatment is vital.

For a person who lives with chronic pain, the benefits of any treatment are very important; having those few days where you can feel ‘normal’ and get on with your every-day tasks are priceless. Don’t we all deserve those moments?

NASS is joining forces with other organisations to campaign to save our hydrotherapy pools. If you know of a pool under threat or simply would like to learn more about how to advertise your pool and utilise it to the fullest, get in touch. The hydrotherapy pools that are the most successful and the most protected is where they are used by people with a range of conditions and needs. We need to get the message out there just how important this treatment is, and we need the support of ARMA members to do it.

NASS Voices are new community events for both NASS members and non-members, bringing together people with axial SpA (AS), their families and friends, local rheumatologists, nurses, physiotherapists and others interested in the condition.

NASS are holding four events in 2019:

Cardiff 12-13 April 2019 Book via this link
Southampton 10-11 May 2019 Book via this link
Leeds 6-7 September 2019 Booking opens soon
London 15-16 November 2019 Booking opens soon

Read more about the events and learn what services are available near you via the NASS community engagement events page.

In 2018 NASS held two community engagement conferences called NASS Voices, in Scotland and Northern Ireland, aiming to bring together people with axial SpA (AS), their families and friends, local rheumatologists, nurses, physiotherapists and others interested in the condition. The team wanted people to come with questions and leave with answers.

Feedback indicated that these events truly delivered on their promise, so NASS is excited to be running four more events in 2019.

Cardiff: Saturday 13 April 2019
Southampton: Saturday 11 May 2019
Leeds: Saturday 7 September 2019
London: Saturday 16 November 2019

These events will feature practical talks and activities delivered by rheumatologists, physiotherapists, branch representatives and members of the NASS team. “We hope that delegates enjoy sharing personal experiences and leave with new friendships, a full complement of self-care techniques and a greater ability to support others across the axial SpA (AS) community,” says Head of Communications and Marketing, Maxine Napal.

The new ASone Social will be held the evening before each event: a free, informal meet up where local people with an interest in axial SpA (AS) can connect. Interested parties don’t need to be NASS members, and need not have booked a place in the NASS Voices conference to attend this gathering.

The cost to attend NASS Voices is £10, which includes refreshments and lunch. Learn more on the NASS website or contact Lavinia on 020 8741 1515.


Friday 29 March 2019, 3:00pm

The importance of integrating psychosocial care into the treatment of long term musculoskeletal conditions is well established. What would this look like in practice? Using the example of the 3 Dimensions for Long Term Conditions service at King’s Health Partners this webinar will cover why and how to provide and effective integrated service which benefits patients and works for clinicians. The 3 dimensions service is not an MSK service, but the approach would work equally well in supporting people with MSK conditions.

Depression is the most common co-morbidity among people with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), and the presence of depression can lead to a person’s pain and overall disability being worse. Yet in a recent survey of people with RA, 2 in 5 had never been asked by a healthcare professional about their emotional or psychological wellbeing. Twenty two percent had a diagnosis of depression, but 37% of these were not receiving treatment for that depression.

The webinar will cover why we need to integrate mental and physical healthcare, common psychological reactions and symptoms. It will describe an example of psychosocial integration using a stepped care approach and explore the challenges and successes of joint working.

Presenter: Dr. Lindsay Ip, Principal Clinical Psychologist at King’s Health Partners (KHP)

Who should attend: This webinar is for anyone involved in providing or commissioning services for people with long term musculoskeletal conditions.

Register for this webinar:

by Leyla Hannbeck, Director of Pharmacy at NPA

People living with musculoskeletal conditions are often taking several prescribed and over-the-counter medicines, so come into frequent contact with their local pharmacist. For example, someone with arthritis may be taking Co-Codamol for pain relief, patches for heat therapy and amitriptyline for depression. (ARMA’s policy paper on mental health is a cogent reminder about the complex interplay of mental and physical conditions).

But even frequent visitors to pharmacies may not be aware of the full range of NHS services available there.

If you are taking two or more prescribed medicines for a long term condition, the NHS Medicines Use Review, also known as a medicine check-up or medicine MOT, is a free NHS service that can help you get maximum benefit from your medicines. You can ask your pharmacist questions about your medicines at any time, particularly if you have an urgent problem, but an MUR provides a perfect opportunity for an in-depth conversation with a pharmacist in a consultation room. You may want to discuss the drugs you have been prescribed, any problems or side-effects you are experiencing or whether there is a more effective way of taking them.

Such services are designed to ensure a thorough conversation about the patient’s medicines use. Yet patients occasionally “leave the consultation room with the real issue still in their back pocket” (to steal a phrase originally used by a patient in Leeds). So please feel free to ask your pharmacist anything at all about your medicines, your health and wellbeing. It is better to reveal too much information than not enough, so bring up problems even if your doctor or pharmacist hasn’t asked about them.

Medicines shortages

Changing the subject, you might have seen coverage in the news about medicines shortages and the supposed link to Brexit.

Please be assured that whatever the Brexit scenario that finally emerges, pharmacists will put the needs of patients first, as they always do.

The government has worked with the pharmaceutical industry to put in place a number of contingency measures to ensure continuity of medicines supply in the event of disruption caused by a no deal Brexit. This includes asking manufacturers to hold an additional six weeks supply of medicines in the UK as buffer stock in case the UK leaves the EU with no-deal and without a transitional agreement.

There is also legislation that would allow pharmacists to substitute medicines that are in short supply with suitable alternatives, under strict protocols. This is a sensible contingency – it means that pharmacists will be able to take action to help patients get their medicines in a timely fashion, without the need for referral back to a GP.

Meanwhile, our advice to all patients is this:

  • If you take medicines for the treatment of your medical condition, make sure you order your repeat medicines in plenty of time – well before your current supply runs out – to ensure you get what you need, when you need it.
  • If there is a shortage of your usual medication, please do not be tempted to get medicines from a family member, friend or an unregulated source; many on-line sources of medicine are unregulated and you will not receive the same protection as you would if you obtained the medicine from a regulated source. Always ask your pharmacist, who can vouch for the safety of the product and give you professional advice.

Pain Alliance Europe launched a new survey on stigma and chronic pain. One of the main “fights” PAE is leading is for the pain patient to be heard, believed and understood. The most recent survey developed deals with stigma related to chronic pain and will be open until the 1st of March, 2019.

Besides the many physical challenges that chronic pain inflicts, patients deal with the psychological burden of having a condition they do not deliberately choose to have.

To understand better to which extent stigma is a part of the illness pack in the life of a chronic pain patient, Pain Alliance Europe has directed its questions for 2019’s survey about chronic pain to the way patients perceive and are affected by the subjectivity of other categories from society that they come in contact with during their pain journey.

In this respect, PAE hope the results of the new survey on stigma related to chronic pain will raise awareness of the way the environment of the patient may contribute to the alteration of the psychological conditions that influence the life of a patient.

Take the survey here. Previous surveys and results are available on the website.