Our approach to tackling musculoskeletal pain

For people with arthritis, pain has a substantial impact on all aspects of their life, causing significant disability, morbidity and contributing to an increased risk of mortality. Since 2015, we've been reviewing and carefully considering our approach to tackling musculoskeletal pain. This has included reviewing our insight and information about pain and engaging in strategic discussions with key stakeholders, for example at our pain workshops held in May 2016 and February 2017. By focusing on this priority area for people with arthritis, along with continuing to seek a cure for arthritis, we aim to drastically transform and improve the quality of life for the millions of people living with the pain of arthritis.

Since 2015 we have been catalysing new areas of activity in our research award and fellowship schemes to prioritise musculoskeletal pain research. As result of this, our current investment in pain research stands at around £32 million (figure correct as of 2018).

Our roadmap for pain

Through 2017 and early in 2018, we developed an ambitious pain strategy, our Roadmap for Pain. This strategy was developed in conjunction with experts including researchers, healthcare professionals, other funders and people living with pain, and will be used to guide our future investments into pain research.

Our Roadmap for Pain (PDF, 1.61 MB) contains information on:

  • The challenge of musculoskeletal pain
  • the journey to developing this research roadmap for pain
  • quotes from those involved in the process
  • our 14 areas for future research to address.

This roadmap marks the beginning of the journey. Further understanding of each area is now required to begin to prioritise activities. If you have a great idea, or would like more information, please get in touch with us on

Recent awards

Patient centered care for fibromyalgia (PACFIND)
Professor Gary Macfarlane
University of Aberdeen

Supported self-management for people living with musculoskeletal pain
Professor Joanne Protheroe
Keele University

Investigating the 17-HDHA molecule as a potential predictor of pain in osteoarthritis
Professor Victoria Chapman
University of Nottingham

Mechanisms of musculoskeletal pain
Professor John Wood
University College London

Investigating the role of central nervous system pain in psoriatic arthritis
Dr Neil Basu
University of Glasgow

Understanding why pain persists when inflammation has resolved
Professor Marzia Malcangio
King’s College London
September 2018

Uncovering a role for TRPM2 ion channels in rheumatoid arthritis pain
Dr Xuming Zhang
Aston University

Understanding how Nav 1.7 proteins in nerves cause pain in arthritis
Dr Ewan Smith
University of Cambridge

Improving the quality of life of people with joint pain by targeting the stress regulator FKBP51
Dr Sandrine Geranton
University College London

The quality of life impact of living with arthritis and other chronic conditions
Dr Barbara Nicholl
University of Glasgow