Musculoskeletal Disease Prevalence


Fourth Edition advance copy

Disclaimer: This chapter will be included in the forthcoming The Burden of Musculoskeletal Diseases in the United States, Fourth Edition. The United States Bone and Joint Initiative is making it available here prior to its final print publication. This chapter has not been finalized for publication; therefore, it may contain errors of fact, interpretation, or information. The United States Bone and Joint Initiative editors and staff are not responsible for the use of any potentially misleading or inaccurate information or data. Click here for the suggested citation.

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Lead Author(s): 

Edward H. Yelin, PhD
Miriam Cisternas, MA

Supporting Author(s): 

Sylvia I. Watkins-Castillo, PhD

We estimate that 107.5 million persons annually experienced musculoskeletal disease in the 2012-2014 period, an increase of 31.5 million since 1996-1998. Our estimates, based on the Medical Expenditures Panel Survey (MEPS) may differ from those derived from other sources due to variations in data collection and definitions for musculoskeletal disease. Over one third of the population was affected by a musculoskeletal condition at least once per year in the 2012-2014 period — an increase of 6 percentage points between from 1996-1998 (28.0% to 34.0%). Musculoskeletal disease now affects more than one third of the population. (Reference Table 8.1.1 PDF CSV)

Using the broader AAOS definition of musculoskeletal diseases, an average of 162.4 million (51.4% of the population) reported such conditions annually over the 2012-2014 period, an increase from the 121.1 million (44.7%) reporting the conditions in 1996-1998. (Reference Table A8.1.1 PDF CSV)


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