March 2020 network news

Treatment for shoulder pain

Shoulder problems affect 20% of adults and are often very painful, affecting sleep, work and everyday life. Most patients receive treatment from their GPs or physiotherapists, but seven times more patients are having surgery compared to 10 years ago, despite there being little evidence that surgery provides better results than non-surgical treatments.

Research funded by Versus Arthritis and led by Professor Danielle van der Windt (Keele University) aims to develop a way to screen patients to identify the cause of shoulder pain and help clinicians to select the most appropriate treatment for patients.

PANDA-S is now in its second year. The researchers are in the process of analysing 24 datasets, aiming to identify characteristics of patients who are likely to benefit from common primary care treatments for shoulder pain such as exercise, shoulder injections or surgery. The study is also observing long-term outcomes of different treatments, using questionnaires to follow up with patients for three years to see if their treatment has helped pain.

Using this information, the team will develop a decision support tool to help clinicians identify patients likely to recover quickly from surgery or those that may experience continued pain. This could help to ensure people do not have unnecessary surgery and advise patients on other treatment options to relieve their shoulder pain.

The final stage of this project will be a randomised trial of over 500 patients to test if the decision support tool leads to better outcomes for patients (reducing long-term pain, disability, and time off work). The study will also assess if the tool helps to make better use of NHS resources.

For more information please visit the NIHR website.

Right on Time

On 24 February 2020, Versus Arthritis started the ‘Right on Time’ campaign calling for improved access to joint replacement surgery. Since then, the COVID-19 virus has reached the UK and is having an unprecedented impact on health care services, including significant changes to elective care provision in the NHS.

We have paused our Right on Time campaigning activity at this time. We will continue to monitor what’s happening in the NHS, work with NHS colleagues and other partners to provide information to people with arthritis, and also continue to support people with arthritis through our helpline and online communities. Find out more by reading our latest news article.

For far too many patients, the pain of waiting for a joint replacement surgery date means putting life on hold.

Data from an FOI request we commissioned show that tens of thousands of people are waiting longer than eighteen weeks for this life-changing surgery. Worryingly, with the NHS currently reviewing how waiting times are measured, the existing guarantee to start joint replacement treatment within 18 weeks of referral could be removed.

A maximum waiting time gives patients vital hope and assurance that they will receive the treatment they need. Without this, the uncertainty and agony of waiting is unbearable.

This is why Versus Arthritis has launched the Right on Time campaign.

Sign our petition

Please sign the petition and share it with your friends and family. Find out more about the campaign, as well as downloadable versions of the petition and resources.

If you have a patient who has been waiting longer than 18 weeks to start treatment, all reasonable steps must be taken to offer a suitable alternative provider. Please contact either the provider that they have been referred to or your local CCG so that alternatives can be investigated for your patient.

Our Living Well with Arthritis Commissioned Services cover lots of information about managing pain, exercise and surgery. If there is not currently one in your area, you can speak to your local CCGs about commissioning us.

We also have our local branches and groups, where people can find support and meet other people in similar situations to themselves.

Find out about the services we provide in your area.

You can also find good stretches so that your patients can strengthen the muscle around the joints that need replacing.

With your support, we can ensure that people with arthritis have access to the support and treatment they need.

Have you got what it takes to be a 2020 MSK Champion?

Following the successful launch of the MSK Champions programme in 2018, we are delighted to announce that applications for our third programme are now open.

Together with the prestigious and well renowned international business school Ashridge Executive Education, we have created a bespoke leadership initiative, which will support you to become a Champion of musculoskeletal care.

This 18-month leadership development programme will harness your skills and empower you to drive forward a service improvement project with either a local or national focus.

One of our current champions on the programme has said:

The programme has given me the confidence to face difficult situations that stand in the way of improving care. The programme has given me a lifelong network of like-minded individuals who will be happy to offer support and mentorship. Our projects will improve the care for patients but more importantly the personal changes we are experiencing will be life long and therefore result in life long changes in MSK healthcare” - (Kay Stevenson, Consultant Physiotherapist)

Be the difference, make the difference.

Visit our MSK Champions page to find out more about the programme and how you can apply.

You can email: for more information.