Health Care Treatment Visits for Musculoskeletal Injuries

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Lead Author(s): 

Andrew N. Pollak, MD

Supporting Author(s): 

Sylvia I. Watkins-Castillo, PhD

Musculoskeletal injuries accounted for 4% of health care visits to physician offices, outpatient clinics, and hospital discharges. Visits to emergency departments for musculoskeletal injuries accounted for 15% of all emergency department visits. Overall, more than 65 million health care visits were made in 2010 for musculoskeletal injuries. By far, the largest share of these visits was to physician offices, accounting for nearly 80% of all visits and for 62% of visits for musculoskeletal injuries. Emergency departments and outpatient clinics see similar percentages of total patients (10% [NHAMCS_ED] and 8% [NHAMCS_OP]), but emergency departments are more likely to see patients with a musculoskeletal injury. Hospital discharges account for about 3% of patient visits for all health care reasons and for musculoskeletal injuries. (Reference Table 6A.2.2.1 PDF CSV)
Musculoskeletal Injury Health Care Visits, United States 2010/2011
Proportion of Health Care Visits by Provider, United States 2010
Three of four (77%) health care visits associated with an injury diagnosis are related to a musculoskeletal injury. The largest share is found in injury treatments in a physician's office, where four of five (81%) injuries treated are musculoskeletal. The smallest share, 68%, is for hospital discharges. (Reference Table 6A.2.2.4 PDF CSV)
Proportion of Musculoskeletal Injury Visits to All Injury Visits By Site, United States 2010
Females, in general, are more likely overall to have a health care visit than are males. With regard to musculoskeletal injury, however, this is true only for the category of health care visits related to hospital discharges, where females represent slightly more than their proportion in the general population. For other care sites, males represent a higher than expected proportion of visits for musculoskeletal injuries.
Proportion of Patient Visits for Musculoskeletal Injuries by Sex, United States 2010
When it comes to age, persons 75 years and older are far more likely to have a hospital discharge for a musculoskeletal injury than those younger in age. Children, defined as those under the age of 17, utilize outpatient clinics for injury treatment more than persons of other age groups. Young adults between the ages of 18 and 44 years visit emergency departments more frequently for injury care, while their slightly older peers, those aged 45 to 64 years, visit physician offices most often. People aged 65 to 74 years comprise about the same proportion of the general population as those 75 years  and older, but they make fewer health care visits for musculoskeletal injury treatment.
Proportion of Patient Visits for Musculoskeletal Injuries by Age, United States 2010


  • 2014

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