Number of Cases

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Lead Author(s): 

Edward H. Yelin, PhD
Miriam Cisternas, MA

Supporting Author(s): 

Sylvia I. Watkins-Castillo, PhD

Between 1996 to 1998 and 2009 to 2011, the number of persons reporting a musculoskeletal disease increased by 26.5 million from the 76.0 million reported in 1996 to 1998 to the 102.5 million reported in 2009 to 2011.

The impact of musculoskeletal disease on the aging population is evident in the shifting burden carried by older persons. Among the population under the age of 18 years, the prevalence of musculoskeletal conditions is reported in 7.9 to 8.8 persons each year between 1996 and 2011. For the same years, persons age 18 to 44 years account for 26.4 to 29.8 million persons with the condition each year. However, as the population in the two older age groups has grown, the number of individuals with musculoskeletal diseases in those groups has increased substantially. In the years 1996 to 1998, an average of 21.7 million persons age 45 to 64 years reported a musculoskeletal disease condition, while 16.5 million of those 65 years and older did so. By 2009 to 2011, these numbers had risen to 39.2 million and 25.1 million, respectively. (Reference Table 10.1.1 PDF CSV)
Population with Musculoskeletal Diseases by Age, United States 1996-2011
The 94.2 million persons age 18 years and older reporting a musculoskeletal disease in the MEPS is a substantially lower number than the 126.6 million musculoskeletal diseases self-reported by adults age 19 years and older in the National Health Interview Survey in 2012, and reported in the Big Picture section of this report.

A more expansive definition of musculoskeletal diseases includes persons with musculoskeletal diseases as a primary health concern, as well as persons in whom the musculoskeletal disease is a by-product of another condition (eg, bone metastases from cancer) or is overshadowed by a life-threatening disease, and, therefore, is often not the primary diagnosis (Dx1). The more expansive definition codes can be found in the ICD-9-CM codes section.

Using this more expansive definition of musculoskeletal diseases, an average of 156.6 million persons of all ages, or 50.7% of the population, reported a musculoskeletal disease annually for the years of 2009 to 2011. This compares to 52.8% of persons age 18 years and older reported in the Big Picture section.


  • 2014

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