Bed and Lost Work Days Due to Musculoskeletal Injuries

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Lead Author(s): 

Andrew N. Pollak, MD

Supporting Author(s): 

Sylvia I. Watkins-Castillo, PhD

Every year, musculoskeletal injuries result in hundreds of millions of days spent in bed1 or missed work2 for the millions of persons suffering the injuries. In 2012, 57.5 million adults aged 18 years and older reported spending an average of more than 9 days in bed, for a total of 528 million bed days, due to a musculoskeletal injury. Musculoskeletal injuries accounted for 70% of self-reported bed days for all medical conditions in 2012. The most common musculoskeletal conditions for which persons reported days in bed were back or neck pain (average of 12.3 days in bed) and arthritis/rheumatism (average of 10.3 bed days). Together, these conditions accounted for nearly 3 in 4 days spent in bed because of a musculoskeletal condition. With respect to bed days, age is not a factor in increasing numbers, as persons aged 65 years and older report fewer bed days for all musculoskeletal conditions, and for all medical conditions, than those younger than 65 years. (Reference Table 6A.5.1 PDF CSV and Table 6A.5.3 PDF CSV)

Work days lost due to medical conditions were reported at more than 216 million days, based on average lost. As with bed days, musculoskeletal conditions accounted for 70% of the work days reported lost. Back and neck pain was reported as the cause of one-third of the lost work days, with arthritis and rheumatism accounting for another quarter of days. Not unexpectedly, persons age 65 years and older reported fewer lost work days than did younger persons, in part because many are out of the work force already. Although males reported one day longer, on average, of time away from work due to a medical cause, the lower number of males reporting lost work days resulted in females having a slightly higher share of total days lost. This was also true for musculoskeletal conditions, with fewer males reporting work days lost than females, but with a higher average of days lost per person. (Reference Table 6A.5.2 PDF CSV and Table 6A.5.3 PDF CSV)
Proportion of Self-Reported Bed Days and Lost Work Days by Medical Cause, United States 2012

  • 1. A bed day is defined as one-half or more days in bed due to injury or illness in past 12 months, excluding hospitalization.
  • 2. A missed work day is defined as absence from work due to illness or injury in the past 12 months, excluding maternity or family leave.


  • 2014

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