News Release

Experience of arm pain needed to help shape new research

Business Announcement

University of Leeds

Experience of arm pain needed to help shape new research 

People living with painful hand and arm conditions are invited to take part in research and help create a new online support platform for patients. 

The research is open to people with a range of complaints including hand and thumb osteoarthritis, tendonitis, tennis and golfers’ elbow, carpal tunnel syndrome and non-specific arm pain – previously termed repetitive strain injury. 

Musculoskeletal diseases such as these conditions affect an estimated 10 million people across the UK, causing more disability than either heart disease or cancer. 

Researchers at the University of Leeds’ Faculty of Medicine and Health, Keele University’s School of Medicine and Impact Accelerator Unit, University of Southampton and University of Aberdeen will work in collaboration with people living with these conditions to design, develop and test a new online programme. It will feature support, information, and a tailored, progressive exercise plan, to guide people in managing their condition. 

Lead researcher Philip Conaghan, Professor of Musculoskeletal Medicine in the University of Leeds’s Institute of Rheumatic and Musculoskeletal Medicine, said: “Musculoskeletal diseases are common, chronic and disabling. Not only do they affect people physically, causing significant pain and disability, they also have a major impact on mental health and well-being. The symptoms and wider-reaching consequences can also impact upon people’s ability to function in their work, family and social lives. 

“There are currently few treatment options, with little evidence for long-term benefit. The best approach to managing these conditions therefore remains uncertain. 

“The design of our new resource will be guided by expertise through lived experience, ensuring that the diverse supportive needs of people living with this range of conditions are met.” 

The six-year research project, titled Digital – My Arm Pain Programme (D-MAPP), is funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), the research partner of the NHS, public health and social care, and the charity Versus Arthritis. 

Dr Neha Issar Brown, Director of Research at Versus Arthritis, said: “Pain is complex and impacts every aspect of your life. People with musculoskeletal (MSK) conditions like arthritis often need more than just medication. They need support with mental health, sleep, mobility, exercise, self-management tools and much more. However, finding the right information and support you need can be difficult.  

“Being guided by the lived experience of people with MSK conditions means the platform will be much better placed in enabling people to manage their pain in a way that works for them, by giving access to expert advice and support from the comfort of home.” 

Both people with a musculoskeletal condition of the hand or arm, and healthcare professionals with experience in treating these conditions, are invited to take part in co-creating and testing the D-MAPP website. 

They will be invited to take part in a survey study, small group discussions and interviews. They can then support the researchers to design the final online programme, which will be tested out on a larger scale. 

Further information, and an initial questionnaire, is available online or by contacting the research team at Much of the research will take place online so participants do not need to travel. 

Further information 

Contact University of Leeds press officer Lauren Ballinger via with media enquiries. 

University of Leeds  

The University of Leeds is one of the largest higher education institutions in the UK, with more than 38,000 students from more than 150 different countries. We are renowned globally for the quality of our teaching and research.  

We are a values-driven university, and we harness our expertise in research and education to help shape a better future for humanity, working through collaboration to tackle inequalities, achieve societal impact and drive change.   

The University is a member of the Russell Group of research-intensive universities, and plays a significant role in the Turing, Rosalind Franklin and Royce Institutes.   

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The mission of the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) is to improve the health and wealth of the nation through research. We do this by: 

  • Funding high quality, timely research that benefits the NHS, public health and social care; 

  • Investing in world-class expertise, facilities and a skilled delivery workforce to translate discoveries into improved treatments and services; 

  • Partnering with patients, service users, carers and communities, improving the relevance, quality and impact of our research; 

  • Attracting, training and supporting the best researchers to tackle complex health and social care challenges; 

  • Collaborating with other public funders, charities and industry to help shape a cohesive and globally competitive research system; 

  • Funding applied global health research and training to meet the needs of the poorest people in low and middle income countries. 

NIHR is funded by the Department of Health and Social Care. Its work in low and middle income countries is principally funded through UK Aid from the UK government. 

Impact Accelerator Unit (IAU), School of Medicine, Keele University 

 The Impact Accelerator Unit (IAU) aims to maximise the benefits of world-leading health and care research, making an impact on the quality of life and care for patients and the public. The IAU aims to have a positive and sustained impact on public health, health, and social care, by supporting the timely movement of Keele’s Health research into practice, with a strong emphasis on primary care. The IAU works with patients, the public, academic partners and clinical colleagues to create innovations, which arise from research, and offer solutions to partners’ problems. 

The IAU is a multidisciplinary team working to accelerate the uptake and impact of best research evidence through: 

• implementation of the best health research 

• co-creating transformation to increase the quality of care 

• development of impact case studies 

• leading multi-disciplinary evidence-based practice groups 

• designing and delivering knowledge mobilisation within research programmes 

• maintaining the patient voice as an integral part of knowledge brokering 

• securing and delivering a strong portfolio of externally funded activity 

• developing the next generation of knowledge mobilisation leaders 



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