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.


Pain Alliance Europe are asking for responses to the 2018 edition of the Survey on Chronic Pain, which highlights how pain can affect the work-life of pain patients.

The charities who are members of Pain Alliance Europe (PAE) are inviting people with chronic pain or their carers to fill in this short survey on the effect of their chronic pain on their quality of life, their work situation and about any financial help they receive. The survey starts with some basic questions.

This is the second survey that PAE has created on the theme of chronic pain, in a series of annual surveys on the impact of pain. With each survey, PAE will analyse a different aspect of the impact of pain on the quality of life of the chronic pain patients in Europe.

A report will be created at the end of this survey, comparing the pain patients’ experiences in different countries. This report will be publicised by Pain Alliance Europe in order to reinforce their actions and promotions in order to make politicians and policy makers more aware of the important issue of chronic pain.

You can also follow @pain_europe on Twitter and share the poster [PDF].


The University of Salford and the James Lind Alliance are leading a Priority Setting Partnership (PSP) which will ensure the perspectives of patients, carers and health care practitioners inform future research priorities for charities and funding agencies (such as NIHR). This PSP is an important step forward in understanding the current foot health research priorities across the UK, bringing patients, their carers and clinicians together to identify and prioritise unanswered questions about the effects of treatments (‘treatment uncertainties’) in specific conditions or areas of healthcare need.

The Steering Group is hoping ARMA members will participate in this unique exercise.

A PSP allows clinicians and patients to decide what research should be done, rather than researchers. The James Lind Alliance provides a specific methodology to achieve this and has become a trusted partner to many major charities across the UK. The top ten research priorities will inform all future research spending by the William M. Scholl Endowment Trust (who is also funding the PSP) and it

is expected that other agencies will also adhere to the outcomes (such as NIHR).

This is therefore an opportunity to help guide how millions of pounds will be spend on research over the next decade. As part of the James Lind Alliance methodology a small (12-15) but influential Steering Group is used and its role is to support the leadership of the PSP. Steering group members with direct relevant experience as patients, carers or health care professionals will be invited to participate in the priority setting exercise.

Where does the ARMA membership come in? Taking part in the PSP, by completing the survey when it has been developed later this year, will be a unique opportunity to help shape and address the focus of future foot health research questions that really matter. This is a chance to ensure that foot health research has direct relevance to those that matter; and that there is a clear, transparent pathway to a lasting impact on the future of foot health management.

On the James Lind Alliance website you can read about the JLA and PSPs past and present to help you understand the process and outcomes of the priority setting agenda in more detail.

The Foot Health PSP web site is here:

The recently published results of a LUPUS UK survey have revealed that lupus patients in the UK experience an average delay of 6.4 years between developing initial symptoms and reaching a diagnosis. In addition, the survey showed no change in this delay to diagnosis over recent decades despite efforts to improve identification and diagnosis of the disease.

The results of this survey, which was a collaboration between Manchester researchers and LUPUS UK, demonstrate that further work is needed to raise awareness of lupus amongst both healthcare professionals and patients in the UK to recognise the early symptoms and signs of the disease.

Almost three-quarters of individuals with lupus experience symptoms that limit their ability to carry out their daily activities, so a delay in diagnosis and treatment are having a significant impact on patients’ long-term physical, emotional, and financial wellbeing. These findings suggest a clear agenda for further patient focused research to increase awareness of lupus, identify better and more effective therapies and improve support for patients and overall quality of life.

Studies have shown that lupus affects approximately 25-96 per 100,000 people in the UK, but it is not known how many more cases of lupus are currently undiagnosed due to poor awareness and a lack of specialist referrals.

A summary of the key findings from the survey can be found on the LUPUS UK website.

ESCAPE-pain is a 6 week rehabilitation programme for individuals with knee and hip osteoarthritis which aims to educate participants on their condition, self-management and coping strategies as well as exercise. The Health Innovation Network, the Academic Health Science Network, has been working hard for the past 3+ years to spread the adoption of ESCAPE-pain across the U.K, and recently, has been awarded a grant by Sport England as part of their ‘Active Ageing’ project to target inactive adults in particular and increase access to the programme.

As part of our preliminary research efforts to identify new potential settings in which to deliver ESCAPE-pain, we have put together a very short survey of only 6 questions, to try and understand potential user preferences. If you are an adult aged 55+ and have experience of living with osteoarthritis, or any other exercise restricting condition, we would really appreciate it if you could take just 3 minutes to complete it by following this link:

The survey will not ask any personal questions, and will be kept completely anonymous.
For more information please visit our website.

Accredited pharmacists in England, Wales and Northern Ireland can offer an enhanced patient service called a Medicines Use Review (MUR).  This structured review is free to patients, and is designed primarily to help them manage their medicines more effectively.  Little is known about how often this service is used for people living with pain. We know little about pharmacists’ and pain patients’ views of what happens in pain-related MURs, or why they don’t engage, and what they would like to happen.

We know GPs and pharmacists do not collaborate well over MURs but not enough about why. If we knew more about how best to use MURs for pain patients, we could significantly reduce their suffering. Hence the aim of this research is to optimise the MUR service for pain patients, pharmacists and GPs.

Objective 1: To establish how many Medicines Use Reviews are conducted for pain patients within a UK sample, using these data to estimate national usage. We will also investigate any trends regarding who does pain-related MURs and related demographic variables if the sample size allows. This objective will be achieved via an online survey with appropriate statistical analyses of numerical data. In practice, it is nearly always community pharmacists who conduct MURs, so we will focus on them, henceforth simply calling them “pharmacists”.

Objective 2: To explore what would constitute an optimum pain-related MUR service, according to the views of the three key groups of stakeholders: pain patients, pharmacists and GPs. We will conduct in-depth interviews with 30 community pharmacists, 30 pain patients and 30 GPs about three key issues. Firstly, we will explore their views of MURs: what currently happens, what they would like to happen in an optimal future, and how many pain-related MURs they engage in (patients/pharmacists) or receive information about (GPs). If NHS England has proposed any changes to MURs, as has been suggested may happen, we will also investigate participants’ views on these. Secondly, we will research how these three groups think MURs could impact on analgesic medicines optimisation, notably opioid prescribing, a topical clinical issue.  Thirdly, we will research if our three stakeholder groups think MURs could discuss the impact of pain on work, given that work can be a key health outcome yet is not currently included. We will conduct thematic analysis on our interview data, and engage participants with checking analyses as part of our co-creation of new knowledge about what is needed to optimise MURs

Objective 3: To combine our data analysis with stakeholder input and relevant resources, following behaviour change and implementation science guidelines, producing 3 templates to help pharmacists, pain patients and GPs optimise use of MURs.

Objective 4: To evaluate these 3 templates via an online stakeholder study, which includes patients/pharmacists trying the templates, so they are fully ready for a future trial.


This project is a cost-effective way to benefit pain patients’ lives by supporting them to engage effectively with MURs. It should also benefit pharmacists and GPs, since our best practice templates enable optimum MUR use.

Pain is a good exemplar of conditions labelled as having medically unexplained symptoms so this research has great potential for application to MURs for other conditions that can have unexplained elements like depression, anxiety and fatigue. There is a very similar service to the MUR in Scotland called the Chronic Medication Service – we focus on MURs here but much of our work should be applicable to the Scottish service in considering how to maximise medicines optimisation and whether work can be a part of the conversation within a medicines review framework. A recent review showed that not enough is known about the current state and potential of MURs and it is imperative that this is addressed, to reduce the suffering to themselves and others that pain patients currently endure.

Elaine Wainwright, Senior Lecturer in Applied Psychology
Bath Spa University

Press release
12 October 2017

A new study found that over the last 20 years, the number of people suffering disability from low back and neck pain increased by nearly 21 per cent in the UK*. The new analysis by the Arthritis and Musculoskeletal Alliance using the Global Burden of Disease data also found that in 2016:

  • Low back and neck pain affected 11.9 million people in the UK.
  • 7 million people (8,668,634) in the UK suffered falls causing disability and death.
  • Nearly 5 million people in the UK were disabled by osteoarthritis and 3 million by other conditions of the bones joints and muscles.

Musculoskeletal conditions affect the bones, muscles and joints and account for an astounding one in five visits to the GP[1] and 30.8[2] million working days lost each year.

Professor Anthony Woolf, chair of ARMA said, “Risk factors such as obesity, poor diet and lack of physical activity are contributing to this rise in the population. To combat this, we need health policy that focusses on good lifelong bone, joint and muscle health and preventing and managing these conditions.”

Chief Executive of ARMA, Sue Brown, said, “ARMA is using Bone and Joint Week 2017 to call for urgent action to improve the way we deal with the bone, joints and muscle health at national, local and individual level so that we can tackle the enormous impact of musculoskeletal conditions on people. Doing so will help people live well, independently and actively. 


* Using the disability-adjusted life year (DALY) measure. This is a measure of overall disease burden, expressed as the number of years lost due to ill-health, disability or early death.

[1] Ref: Arthritis Research UK National Primary Care Centre, Keele University (2009), Musculoskeletal Matters.

[2] Ref: Labour Force Survey, ONS, 2016


For more information contact: Nita Parmar/Sue Brown on 0203 856 1978/0203 856 1979.

ARMA, the Arthritis and Musculoskeletal Alliance, is the collective voice for the arthritis and musculoskeletal community in the UK. The Alliance comprises of 36 members including the 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. See for more information. For a full list of member organisations, visit Twitter: @WeAreARMA #BoneandJointWeek2017



The National Osteoporosis Society is pleased to announce that it will shortly be launching a new Research Strategy and grants funding round. The upcoming launch reiterates the continued and central importance that research has within the Charity.

The new strategy is the result of extensive consultation with academics, clinicians and people living with osteoporosis, and clearly outlines what the Charity wants to achieve through research over the next five to ten years, and how it plans to achieve it.

Whilst you’ll have to wait until 2nd October to find out all the details for our exciting new Research Strategy, for now we can share with you the strategy’s three main goals:

  • To ensure that we support research that makes a real difference – by working closely with others to agree what research should be carried out in the future.
  • To ensure researchers get the support they need to do great, life-changing work – by bringing researchers together, sharing ideas and helping tomorrow’s top researchers get started.
  • To ensure that research is always relevant for people affected by osteoporosis – by having strong involvement from people living with osteoporosis, allowing them to participate in studies, inform future research and hear the latest findings quickly so they can benefit as soon as possible.

Details of the full Research Strategy and grants round will be available from 2nd October at

The British Society for Rheumatology is delighted to have won the contract to deliver a three year national arthritis audit, which will be instrumental in improving patient care in England and Wales. This is one of the largest projects that they will undertake over the next few years, and involve over 200 hospitals across England and Wales.

Read the full news here.


Autumn Conference 2017

This event brings together the entire rheumatological profession, giving you a rare opportunity to discuss complex cases in an informal setting.

Whether you are a consultant, trainee, nurse or a rheumatology related health professional, this is a great chance to share and exchange clinical best practice in-depth, as well as add to your CPD points. Book your ticket now!


Paediatric Annual Conference 2017

This high-quality educational and networking event is the 2017 must-attend conference for health professionals working with children and young people in the field of rheumatology.

4th – 6th October 2017


Annual Conference 2018

Abstract submission is now open for the Annual Conference 2018 – this is an opportunity to showcase the advances you’ve made in clinical science and patient care. Please view instructions on our website for how to submit abstracts for this flagship rheumatology event.


Core Skills for Nurses and Health Professionals Course

A two-day intensive course for allied health professionals and nurses with a specialty in rheumatology.

15 – 16 November 2017
Keele University
Details and booking via this link.


The British Society of Rheumatology has recently launched Rheumatology Advances in Practice, which is a new online open-access rheumatology journal.
Find out more via this link to the Oxford University Press website.


BASEM is excited to launch its new partnership with OrthoEvidence (OE).

OE is the global source for summarized, high quality orthopaedic research from around the globe and the service will provide BASEM members with premium access to summaries and critical appraisals of high quality orthopaedic research making them part of a growing community of more than 37,000 practitioners who rely on the highest-quality orthopaedic research to help improve their practice. 60% of OE members surveyed last year even stated that they had changed their practice as a result of reading OE reports.

For further information of this new membership benefit, read more from the OrthoEvidence page on the BASEM website.

Cloudy and the University of Manchester are recruiting for a pioneering smartwatch study called Koalap (knee osteoarthritis: linking activity and pain) which starts in September. They are looking at the link between activity and knee pain.

This is part of the hugely successful Cloudy with a Chance of Pain study, which used citizen science phone app data to explore the relationship between weather and chronic pain conditions. Over 13,000 people took part and we featured on BBC’s “Trust Me, I’m a Doctor”, BBC Breakfast and ITV News, as well as all national newspapers.

For more information, open the poster from Koalap.

If you are interested in taking part in the Koalap study, email, or visit for more information.

By Chris Graham, Chief Executive, Picker Institute Europe

Arguments about the pressures on the NHS at a system level are well rehearsed; rising demand, financial restraint, and challenges around staffing numbers are well reported. But what of the impact of caring on healthcare professionals as people?

The NHS Staff Survey is an annual survey that aims to help providers to understand how it feels to work in the health service. In 2016, it recorded the experiences of more than 423,000 members of NHS staff – and provides fascinating insight into the health and wellbeing of NHS staff.

Some of the findings are troubling. Over the autumn of 2016, 60% of staff came into work despite feeling physically unable to perform their duties. Musculoskeletal (MSK) problems were a particular issue, with one in four (25%) reporting MSK problems resulting from work activities. MSK problems were even more prevalent in ambulance trusts: here, 41% of respondents and three in five (60%) ambulance technicians reported experiencing work-related MSK problems in the last three months.

Encouragingly, the staff survey does provide evidence that organisations can help to reduce MSK problems for staff. Organisations where higher percentages of staff respondents said that their employer “definitely” took positive action on health and wellbeing perhaps unsurprisingly reported lower percentages of staff respondents reporting MSK problems. The strong association between these measures shows the beneficial impact of pro-active approaches to health and wellbeing.

picker logoHealthcare professionals provide an indispensable role, often under difficult circumstances. Their employers rightly have a duty to look after them – and this should include a holistic approach to health that emphasises wellbeing and harm avoidance rather than simply remedial action.

Getting this right is important for staff, but is also vital to reducing pressure on services; organisations that take steps to prevent their staff from becoming patients will prevent sickness absences from stretching their workforce further.

I’d encourage you to take a look at how your organisation faired in the 2016 NHS staff survey – you can see the results here: What do you think of them? Soon, the 2017 survey will be circulated and it will be your opportunity to help us all understand what it’s actually like to work in the NHS in 2017; we need your opinions.

See ARMA’s page of resources related to Working with MSK.

British Society for Rheumatology publishes first UK guideline for the management of adults with Primary Sjögrens Syndrome

The first UK guideline on the care of adults with Primary Sjögren’s Syndrome has been published today by the British Society of Rheumatology. The guidelines are accredited by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) which recognises robust, evidence-based and critically evaluated high-quality processes applied to developing a clinical guideline.

Clinical guidelines are particularly important for patients with less common conditions like Sjögren’s because health professionals can lack confidence in managing treatment and care. Sjögren’s is a chronic, debilitating, multi-system condition predominantly affecting the moisture producing glands of the body, but also causing systemic effects. Patients often see health professionals from several different specialities because of the varied symptoms but health professionals are still quite likely to under-estimate the overall burden of their disease. The new guideline tackles that. It is a pragmatic, practical guide to management with straightforward advice and includes both non-pharmacological and pharmacological treatments.

Not only will the guideline be of particular interest to rheumatologists and other hospital based practitioners such as ophthalmologists, ear, nose and throat specialists, oral medicine experts and general physicians, but also dental practitioners, general practitioners and nurses. Patients struggle with the chronicity of the condition and are frustrated by the paucity of treatment and lack of medical knowledge about how best to manage it – this guideline gives health professionals the guidance they need to manage these patients.

The guideline was written by specialists from across the UK, alongside patients with the condition. The Guideline Working Group included an expert patient, a GP and an occupational therapist with a special interest in the fatigue and sleep problems suffered by patients with Sjögren’s and other chronic inflammatory conditions.

The guideline clarifies care of the dry eyes and mouth with special reference to oral candida and salivary gland enlargement. It extends into treatment of systemic disease and the assessment and management of pregnancy in affected women. Pharmacological treatments for systemic disease are extensively covered alongside helpful guidance on treatments that are not recommended.

Recommendations are not confined to the wholly medical. The guideline includes advice that will help patients to self-manage. Advice on reporting any painless glandular swelling that doesn’t settle due to the increased risk of lymphoma is recommended as is the provision of written information and details of appropriate support groups, on-line resources and graded exercise programmes for fatigue.

The guideline was published on 29 June 2017 in the Rheumatology Journal and is available to view, along with a full suite of guidelines, at

Liz Price, Consultant Rheumatologist with an interest in Sjögren’s Syndrome and lead author, commented: “I have a long-standing interest in the condition and have looked after many patients with it over the years. Patients and health professionals came together after identifying that the absence of a guideline was a problem we could solve together. I’m delighted to have played a part, working with a group of like-minded and committed individuals to create it. I’m certain that once implemented it will make a big difference to patients by improving the treatment and care they receive from their health professionals.

Bridget Crampton, patient representative on the Guideline Working Group and Team Leader on the helpline at the self-help charity British Sjögren’s Syndrome Association said: “I was very happy to be involved in this; it’s really important these vital medical guidelines include input from patients – they will clarify and standardise the diagnosis and treatment of people with Sjögren’s syndrome. We really need faster recognition and thus treatment of the condition. At present this can be a painfully slow process. I hope this guideline will be used in every GP practice and throughout the NHS.”

Elizabeth MacPhie, Consultant Rheumatologist and Chair of the British Society for Rheumatology’s Standards, Audit and Guidelines Working Group added: “Condition specific guidelines are so important for ironing out inconsistencies in practice and putting the evidence base at the heart of what we can do for our patients. Now we have published the Sjögren’s guideline the next challenge is raising awareness of it – colleagues both inside and beyond the speciality of rheumatology must know the Sjögren’s guideline is out there and ready to use”.