The Australasian Faculty of Musculoskeletal Medicine was constituted in 1993, and formally incorporated in 1995, as a result of negotiations between the Australian Association of Musculoskeletal Medicine and the New Zealand Association of Musculoskeletal Medicine. The inception of formal postgraduate courses in musculoskeletal pain medicine in three Australasian universities (Otago, Flinders and Newcastle) led the two national associations to believe that a separate and independent body was required to develop and promulgate standards of practice in the discipline based on a responsible, academic analysis of the scientific literature.
The main intention of the Faculty was to co-ordinate the development of the scientific, academic and educational aspects of musculoskeletal pain medicine. The chosen means of achieving this aim was to draw together those involved in research and education in musculoskeletal pain medicine and those in specialist practice in the discipline to develop its scientific base and apply it to patient management. The Faculty was thus able to bring together all doctors in Australia and New Zealand with similar aspirations to enhance co-operation towards the common goal of improving the quality of care for patients with musculoskeletal pain problems.
Musculoskeletal Health Initiative
In 1996, the Faculty was commissioned by the Australian Federal Minister of Health to conduct the National Musculoskeletal Medicine Initiative. This project involved the development of evidence-based clinical practice guidelines for the management of acute musculoskeletal pain problems; the evaluation of the safety, efficacy, and cost-effectiveness of evidence-based practice for these problems; and an audit of how these problems were managed in usual care. A Report on the Initiative was provided to the Commonwealth in October 2001.
The faculty was also instrumental in producing the evidence-based guidelines for the management of acute low back pain. This is an imposing document and it formed the standard by which other acute pain guidelines have subsequently been written.
The National Musculoskeletal Medicine Initiative enabled the Faculty to define evidence-based practice for acute musculoskeletal pain problems, and to document the competence of its members in this practice. In the course of the Initiative, members of the Faculty also compiled the evidence about the management of chronic musculoskeletal pain problems. Since chronic pain was not encompassed by the Initiative, this other material has been and will continue to be published separately, in the form of books, chapters to books, journal papers, and specialised practice guidelines. Furthermore, members of the Faculty have otherwise been engaged in formal research studies concerning the reliability and validity of diagnostic procedures and the efficacy of therapeutic procedures for chronic musculoskeletal pain problems.
More recently (2003), Faculty members have played a key role in the production of the following clinical guidelines: Evidence-based management of acute musculoskeletal pain (1,319kb).
The main objectives for which the Faculty was established were to promote the science of, and education in, musculoskeletal pain medicine and to promote scientific methods of treatment of musculoskeletal disorders. In its early years the Faculty's activities were entirely devoted to these objectives but, as time went on, the need arose for some form of recognition of expertise and competence in the field. The Faculty deliberately eschewed the concept of 'grandfathering'. It determined instead that any recognition given should be based solely on objective examination of a standard comparable to that of the learned Colleges. A process was developed and a Board of Censors was appointed. The first examination was held in 1998. Those who passed the examination then, and subsequently, became Fellows of the Faculty. The Fellowship has evolved as the academic arm of the Faculty.
In 1999, the Medical Council of New Zealand recommended to Government that Musculoskeletal Medicine be recognised in New Zealand as a vocational branch (discipline) of medicine. This was incorporated into the New Zealand Medical Practitioners Act in April 2000. Vocational registration requires both completing the accreditation process of the New Zealand Association of Musculoskeletal Medicine, and gaining Fellowship of the Australasian Faculty of Musculoskeletal Medicine. Since then, the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) of New Zealand as well as private health insurance providers have recognised those practitioners with both Vocational Registration in Musculoskeletal Medicine and Fellowship of the Faculty as specialist providers in Musculoskeletal Medicine.