Restrictions to Treatments and Services, ARMA Survey 2015-16

ARMA carried out a survey between 12th November 2015 and 15th January 2016 on whether people with musculoskeletal (MSK) conditions had experienced any restrictions on accessing treatment and/or services. The survey was conducted using Survey Monkey and was distributed via the ARMA newsletter and through our membership.

Open and download the survey infographic as a pdf.


Key findings:

  • Lack of understanding within primary care – GPs had limited knowledge of conditions and the impact of MSK conditions on people’s lives
  • Lack of referrals to specialists. This is especially important for people diagnosed with Inflammatory Arthritis who should receive specialist treatment within 3 months.
  • Inconsistent services across England, with some areas having no facilities such as Hydrotherapy pools or pain clinics available.
  • People who do not live near specialist clinics or health care hubs find it hard to access high quality care.
  • Lack of ongoing care and support for chronic conditions.
  • People described feeling dismissed, that their symptoms were not taken seriously.
  • Often only painkillers or anti-depressants were prescribed, not specialist medication.
  • People do not understand because they cannot see the condition (‘invisible illness’).
  • Lack of awareness of the disruption caused by delayed/cancelled operations (upon work/ family/childcare) – “life on hold”.
  • Reliant upon charities rather than statutory care.
  • No help with accessing pain management courses.


Key recommendations:

  • All Health Care Professionals treating people with MSK conditions should be sufficiently equipped to offer quality care and refer as appropriate.
  • Commissioners to ensure the right services are provided for the needs of the local population. See ARMA’s Key messages for commissioners document.
  • People with chronic conditions to have continuity and coordination of care
  • People living with MSK condition should be signposted to patient-led voluntary organisations for information and support