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Our work in Scotland

A magnifying glass over a map of ScotlandIn Scotland, 800,000 people live with osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis. There are many more living with other types of arthritis and musculoskeletal conditions.

From Aberdeen to Edinburgh to Glasgow, we have a long-standing record of working alongside people with arthritis and researchers in Scotland. Together, we’re committed to:

  • preventing the onset of arthritis
  • developing a cure for arthritis
  • transforming the lives of those with arthritis.

Policy work

Musculoskeletal conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, back pain and osteoporosis are the leading cause of long-standing illness in Scotland.

Our policy statement on musculoskeletal conditions and public health in Scotland (PDF 495KB) looks at the prevalence and burden of musculoskeletal conditions in Scotland and sets out recommendations for policy makers in Scotland.

Our policy statement on musculoskeletal conditions and physical activity in Scotland (PDF 547KB) looks at the relationship between physical activity and musculoskeletal health, current policy initiatives in this area and recommendations for policy makers in Scotland.

Our policy statement on the NHS and musculoskeletal health in Scotland (PDF 1.15MB) looks at the role of the NHS in Scotland in supporting people with musculoskeletal conditions.


We’re currently funding almost £13 million of research, educational projects and training in Scotland.We’re currently funding almost £13 million of research, educational projects and training in Scotland.

The research being done across Scotland is vital in our efforts to cure arthritis and find better ways to diagnose and treat the condition.

Our research centres

We help to fund two key research centres in Glasgow:

  • The Arthritis Research UK Rheumatoid Arthritis Pathogenesis Centre of Excellence (RACE) is based at the University of Glasgow. This centre aims to improve our understanding of where and why rheumatoid arthritis starts, why it attacks the joints and why it doesn’t go away.
  • The University of Glasgow is also the site of one of our experimental arthritis treatment centres. The aim of these centres is to support the testing and early development of new drugs in the treatment of arthritis and related conditions. This should speed up the process of getting new therapies to people who need them.

Other research

As well as these two key hubs, there’s lots of other exciting research going on across Scotland:

Dr Simon Milling is investigating whether some patients with ankylosing spondylitis have undiagnosed gastrointestinal disease which may be making their disease more severe.

This Glasgow-based research aims to understand how inflammation in the intestine can contribute to ankylosing spondylitis, and identify whether some groups of patients are more affected by intestinal inflammation than others.

Professor Cosimo De Bari at the University of Aberdeen is using cutting-edge technologies to study the way stem cells, found within the joint, maintain normal joint tissues or become abnormal in joint diseases such as osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

It’s hoped that this study will provide a scientific basis for the drug targeting of stem cells to treat arthritis. The study doesn't just aim to prevent the progression of joint damage in people with arthritis, but also trigger the repair of damaged tissue, meaning patients could regain use of their joints.

Professor Gary Macfarlane at the University of Aberdeen previously discovered that people with fibromyalgia experienced long-lasting improvements in their symptoms when they received a form of talking therapy called cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) by phone.

Now Professor Macfarlane is investigating whether telephone CBT can also prevent chronic pain from developing.

In 2013 we awarded Glasgow academics a £1.2million grant to bring together experts in bone, matrix, molecular and systems biology for the first time. The team aims to better understand osteoarthritis and find ways to treat its underlying causes.

Fighting for a fair deal for people with arthritis

More and more people with arthritis have been joining together to tell their politicians to prioritise the prevention, cure and transformation of services for people living in pain.

And because of our Scottish campaigners, there are 18 Scottish Arthritis Champion MPs in Parliament. Arthritis Champions are committed to standing up for local people with arthritis and supporting our 2015 General Election campaign manifesto.

In 2016 people with arthritis are asking their local politicians to step up their efforts and take action. Look out for more exciting news this spring about how you can take the fight to beat arthritis to the heart of the Scottish Government.


From the Edinburgh Marathon to golfing events and the Land’s End to John O’Groats Cycle, our supporters take part in events across Scotland to help raise money for our work

We’ve supported a number of community fundraising events, including the Scottish Borders walk and the October Challenge grand finale.

This year we’ve been chosen as the official charity partners for the Melrose rugby sevens tournament on 9 April 2016.

Find out more about our events and how you can to support us.

Back to What does Arthritis Research UK do?

Take part in an Event

Back of runner for Arthritis Research UK

Take a look at our events for some great ideas of how you can get involved in Arthritis Research UK events around the country.

For more information, go to
Arthritis Research UK fund research into the cause, treatment and cure of arthritis. You can support Arthritis Research UK by volunteering, donating or visiting our shops.