Arthritis and Musculoskeletal Alliance
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  • 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.

Tag: arthritis support groups

Flare Roller Coaster for People Living with Arthritis and Connective Tissue Diseases

The Next Rheumatology Flare Roller Coaster workshop will be held on Saturday 3rd February 2018, from 09:30 -13:00.
Venue: Fracture Clinic – C Level, Queen Alexandra Hospital, Cosham PO6 3LY

Places are limited so please register early.

To book your place or receive more information, email: or telephone 02392286935

For frequently asked questions about our Flare Rollercoaster workshop, please see our leaflet [PDF].

If you have arthritis or a connective tissue disease, the festive period can be tough. For starters, the months of December and January come at the coldest time of year, which can cause more problems, and although cold weather doesn’t cause arthritis or connective tissue diseases, it may increase joint pain and possible flares.

Colin Beevor, Matron: “Sometimes flare-ups can’t be avoided, no matter how hard you try. If you start to feel increased pain or joint stiffness, take action.”

There are many self-management treatments that can help reduce joint pain:-

  • Hot/warm packs and even warm baths can soothe painful joints and relieve stiffness;
  • Ice packs can relieve pain, reduce inflammation, and cool down joints during flare-ups. Remember: do not apply heat or ice packs directly to the skin or for more than 20 minutes at a time;
  • Topical cream or gel that contains the nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug NSAID. Ask your local pharmacist before using a topical treatment that contains NSAIDs particularly if you already take over-the-counter or prescription NSAID tablets.
  • TENS Machines – Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation machine administers mild electrical currents through the skin to the nerve fibers which can help to block or suppress pain messages.


Keeping Active

Although arthritis and connective tissue diseases and exercise may not seem like a natural match, staying active can definitely help your joint pain.

Getting out in the fresh air has proven benefits to your health, from strengthening your muscles to improving your blood pressure and helping with a good night’s sleep, spending time in the open is good for your health.

Swimming is a form of exercise suitable for all age groups. Even if you are not a strong swimmer or have non-swimmers in your family it is a great way of spending time together and getting fit whilst doing it. Swimming is a great low-impact activity that helps burn calories, strengthen muscle mass, and improve cardiac endurance.  The water allows your body to exercise without impacting too much on the joints; this makes it an ideal exercise for those with stiff joints, sore muscles. If you find going to the swimming pool very cold, a tip is to wrap your towel and clothing in a hot water bottle.

A fun-packed day for all

On Sunday 22nd October 2017, the Department of Rheumatology staff hosted more than fifteen tables for children’s games and crafts – f rom Dominos, colouring to ghostly table lights, and homemade first aid kits – whilst Dads and Mums living with arthritis and connective tissues attended a number of short presentations aimed at providing help and advice:

  • Strategies for coping with a diagnosis and moving forward
  • How to manage family life work and arthritis and connective tissue diseases
  • Incorporating the benefits for staying active and eating healthily

The DaM-it Arthritis project is funded through the Department of Rheumatology’s charitable funds and non-conditional educational grants, offering free events to support the community of Dads and Mums affected by Arthritis and Connective Tissue Diseases and their families.

We recognise that social and emotional peer support is as essential as medical care for people living with these long-term conditions.

The Department of Rheumatology at the Portsmouth Hospital NHS Trust aims to understand the needs of this group and will be hosting a variety of family-centred events in 2018, combining fun and games with an understanding of the conditions and the impact it has on the family. We aim to offer a variety of workshops, classes, groups and activities in a non-residential, home-like setting.

Read the DaM-it-Arthritis info-sheet here.

Jenny Kynes, Head of Nursing, MSK Services, said: “Dads and Mums affected by Arthritis and Connective Tissues diseases need a place where others understand what they are going through. I am so pleased to see and hear about the work of the Rheumatology Department where the Dads and Mums get the opportunity to discuss and question healthcare professionals about subjects important to them.

Alex Fletcher, DAWN coordinator, said: “I was humbled and amazed at listening to the dads and mums’ stories. It gave me a true understanding, in-depth, of the impact living with arthritis and connective tissue diseases has on their lives and the lives of their partners and children. Until then, I only knew of their names from updating the information systems, so meeting them was revealing, touching and often heartwarming. It reminds us to think of a person, not just a condition, and ask what matters most to them?”

Arthritis and Connective Tissue Disease flares are normal but do have an impact on every aspect of your life. In simple terms a flare can be described as “a sudden increased severity in symptoms that can hit at any time”.

For many patients having a flare is disheartening, they feel that they have been managing their arthritis/connective tissue disease well and doing all the right things by taking their medication regularly and maintaining a healthy balance of exercise and activity, then one day they wake up and feel like it was all for nothing. For many the symptoms can be mild and for others the symptoms of joint pain, stiffness and swelling and fatigue are the worst that they can remember in a long time.

It’s important to remember arthritis and connective tissue diseases even when on effective treatments can have acute periods of time with pain, inflammation and fatigue – this is known as flares. Thankfully for many these troublesome and unpredictable, flares are short lived, unfortunately for a few the flares may continue for a few days or even weeks.

There may be many causes of flares such as

  • After bacterial and virus infection
  • After Surgery- when you may have been off your Disease Modifying Anti Rheumatic or Biologics Drugs
  • Periods of high stress
  • Overdoing it at work or at home

Unfortunately for many it is not often clear what triggers a flare.

Colin Beevor, Matron, says: “Flares can be alarming, not only because of the pain, but because of their unpredictability, patients are often fearful that the flare will spiral out of control and how the flare is disrupting their work family and own quality of life. We are therefore pleased to announce a new “Flare Rollercoaster” patient, family and carer workshop, the programme is open to anyone with inflammatory arthritis (Ankylosing Spondylitis, Rheumatoid arthritis, Psoriatic Arthritis and Connective Tissue Diseases (Lupus, Sjogrens, Scleroderma, Vasculitis and Myositis”

The Department of Rheumatology is pleased to announce the first “Flare Rollercoaster” workshop:

Saturday 2nd December 2017
Registration 09:15am
start 09:30am
finish 1:00pm

During the 3½ hr session you will cover/learn about –

  • Possible causes of a flare-up
  • Being prepared for flares at work, rest and play
  • Self-Management of a flare – first steps – Learning how to manage your flare, by developing your own flare management tool kit
  • What to do if a flare doesn’t settle – next steps

There is also an opportunity to meet others living with arthritis and connective tissue diseases and to share experiences and self-management strategies.

Open the workshop flyer here.

To register to attend, write to –
Rheumatology Conferences/Education Programmes
Rheumatology Department
Queen Alexandra Hospital
Southwick Hill Road Cosham,
Portsmouth PO6 3LY

Telephone 02392286142


Matron and Service Manager
MSK Outpatient Services

Department or Rheumatology, C Level, Queen Alexandra Hospital, Cosham PO6 3LY
0239229 6142 – Secretary Valerie Robins

Read the Summer-Autumn 2017 update newsletter from the Department of Rheumatology at Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust, and the Portsmouth ARMA Network, which features:

  • Events and conference details
  • Flu and Pneumonia vaccination dates
  • “No Time for Pain” Patient-Carer workshop
    – discussing strategies for managing chronic and persistent pain associated to your Arthritis and Connective Tissue Disease with Partners/Family/Carers encouraged to attend as guests
  • “Tired of Being Tired” course
    – a 7 week programme exploring different self-management and relaxation techniques to improve quality of life


Alongside the update are the fliers and forms related to upcoming events –

Day to Day Living with Arthritis and Connective Tissues Diseases Conference 2017:

Programme for healthcare professionals with registration form.
Programme for Public and Patients with registration form.

Flier for Mini Love your Bones event in the Locks Heath, Parkgate, Titchfield and surrounding area.

“No Time for Pain” information leaflet.

Upcoming North Wales support group meetings for people with arthritis and chronic pain.


7th August 2017
4th September 2017
2nd October 2017
6th November 2017
4th December 2017

Holywell Community Hospital, North Wales.
The meeting room is behind the cafe and opposite the reception area.

Open full-size and save the flyer for more details, or see the North Wales Arthritis & Chronic Pain Support Group Facebook page.

Wales is the only home nation without a full multidisciplinary paediatric rheumatology service, so many children and families in Wales travel long distances to access vital services. Arthritis Care believes children with arthritis in Wales deserve better.

That is why Arthritis Care Wales, together with the British Society for Rheumatology and the National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society, held a drop-in event in Cardiff on the 28 June 2017 to talk to Assembly Members about the impact of childhood arthritis and the need for better services.

You can find more information about our paediatric rheumatology campaign here.

Arthritis Care published new research to launch our Wake up to arthritis campaign during Arthritis Care Week. The report, Hidden impact: Arthritis and mental wellbeing, revealed the huge emotional toll of living with arthritis. Findings are based on over 3,000 survey responses from people with arthritis.

Findings include:

  • 79 per cent feel anxious or depressed because of their arthritis
  • 89 per cent worry about how arthritis will affect their future independence
  • Four in five (80 per cent) have given up activities they enjoy
  • Half (50 per cent) feel isolated or lonely because of their arthritis

Find out more about this research and read the full report here.

Services and support

We are delighted to have been awarded significant grants of c£130,000 over three years from the City Bridge Trust towards our Young People and Families service in London, and £25,000 from the Masonic Charitable Foundation to set up 50 Arthritis Care Groups. Arthritis Care Northern Ireland has been awarded £10,750 towards our Living Well with Arthritis and Young People and Families services by the Mrs Maureen Boal Charitable Trust.

North East Hampshire and Farnham CCG have awarded Arthritis Care a contract to replicate part of our innovative West Berkshire service with them, with a focus on group workshops.

Asking candidates to wake up to arthritis

We want MPs to understand why arthritis matters, so in the run-up to the general election Arthritis Care asked our supporters to contact their parliamentary candidates about the impact of arthritis. 730 emails were sent to candidates across the UK, leading to queries from a number of candidates who wanted to know more and helping to raise awareness of arthritis in Parliament.

Following insight and research that shows that 42 % of people with arthritis find it really difficult to find relevant information that can be used in their unique situation, and that 2 in 3 people feel a discussion is necessary alongside information they’ve received, Arthritis Research UK launched a new information and advice Helpline on the 3 April 2017.

Based on the information currently available on Arthritis Research UK’s website, trained advisors are able to discuss each callers unique situation, helping people understand how the information is relevant to their circumstances and answering any follow-up questions, as well as signposting to other organisations that have specialist information, including other arthritis charities. Our helpline advisors are not medically trained but have access to a healthcare professional team to allow them to respond to more complex questions about drugs and treatment.

The Helpline is the first of a number of services that Arthritis Research UK intends to launch to support people to access personally relevant information and advice; we are also developing a new cognitive approach to online information provision and will be launching our arthritis virtual assistant over the summer and we are planning to pilot a peer support programme for people with arthritis who have decided to have joint replacement surgery in the Autumn.

Further information on our Helpline is available here, if you’d like any further information on the Helpline or any other information on our services development please contact please contact Jaslin Gilbert, Services Development Officer.