Overview and History

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. At the time postgraduate courses in musculoskeletal pain medicine were taught in three Australasian universities (Otago, Flinders and Newcastle) and the two national associations believed that a separate specialist training body was needed.  Whereas other specialties conduct their training in hospitals, musculoskeletal pain medicine is mainly undertaken in the community.

AFMM brought together scientists, clinicians, health care providers and policy makers to stimulate and support the study and practice of musculoskeletal pain medicine and to translate this knowledge into improved management of patients with musculoskeletal pain and dysfunction. 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 order to increase expertise and competence in the field,  The Faculty decided that recognition as a Specialist/Fellow should be based on an 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.

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. There is currently no recognition of Musculoskeletal Medicine as a vocational branch ( discipline) of medicine by the Australian Medical Board. The training of specialists in Musculoskeletal Medicine was  undertaken by AFMM under an MOU with NZAMM since 2000 . NZAMM is the Vocational Educational Advisory Body (VEAB) for  the Medical Council of New Zealand. Since 2017 training has become the sole responsibility of NZAMM.

In 2019,  AFMM ceased it’s governance over vocational training in musculoskeletal pain medicine and AFMM as a company was deregistered in Australia and New Zealand and reconstituted as an advisory and support body based in New Zealand. It is now a non-profit incorporated society.  Membership of AFMM Incorporated (NZ) is required for all Fellows and Trainees

Current approach to defining competency in Musculoskeletal Medicine and the Board of Censors

Since 2019, AFMM  has been a non-profit incorporated society.  In recognition of the important work done, throughout the history of AFMM, in promoting the science of, and education in, musculoskeletal pain medicine and in promoting scientific methods of treatment of musculoskeletal disorders, NZAMM requires that a Board of Censors be constituted under  NZAMM to include experienced Fellows of AFMM both in New Zealand and in Australia.  This Board of Censors advises on curriculum development and is constituted as an Assessment Committee for examinations towards the Certificate of Attainment in Musculoskeletal Medicine  (CAMM).  Membership of AFMM Incorporated (NZ) is required for all Fellows and Trainees and is part of the NZAMM application for training.  Application to Train

Vocational registration requires successful completion of the Certificate of Attainment in Musculoskeletal Medicine  (CAMM) and nomination to become a Fellow of NZAMM/AFMM.

The Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) and other insurers/providers in New Zealand recognise those practitioners with vocational registration in Musculoskeletal Medicine, that is Fellowship of NZAMM/ AFMM and CAMM holders, as specialist providers in Musculoskeletal Medicine.

Otago University  now provides the only remaining Australasian postgraduate course in musculoskeletal pain medicine in Australasia, the PG Dip MSM   It is a distance learning-based  musculoskeletal and pain management course taught by  Fellows of  NZAMM/ AFMM, invited lecturers from other colleges and highly experienced allied health professionals.  Teaching and learning in musculoskeletal and pain  is interdisciplinary.


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 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.

In  2003 , Faculty members played a key role in the production of the following clinical guidelines: Evidence-based management of acute musculoskeletal pain (1,319kb).

Structure and Governance

The Faculty’s governance as moved,  as of the AGM in October 2019, Brisbane and subsequent actions, to be an incorporated society in New Zealand. In this way, the interests of all AFMM Fellows and, in particular, the interests of Australian AFMM Fellows can be supported as further change occurs.

Monthly combined AFMM/ NZAMM  Executive  and Council meetings are held via teleconference, with an annual AGM. The Executive is supported by a paid Administrator.

Click here for the AFMM Articles of Association AFMM Incorporated ( NZ)  Articles of Association 2019

Fellowship/ Specialisation

Fellowship of NZAMM / AFMM and the qualification Certificate of Attainment in Musculoskeletal Medicine ( CAMM) are now administered by the Board of Censors of the New Zealand Association of Musculoskeletal Medicine Incorporated ( NZAMM) as the Vocational Advisory and Education Body (VEAB) for Musculoskeletal Medicine in New Zealand.

Becoming a Fellow/ Specialist

See Vocational Training in Musculoskeletal Medicine