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Burden of Musculoskeletal Diseases in the United States

Prevalence, Societal, and Economic Cost

Musculoskeletal diseases affect more than one out of every two persons in the United States age 18 and over, and nearly three out of four age 65 and over. Trauma, back pain, and arthritis are the three most common musculoskeletal conditions reported, and for which health care visits to physicians’ offices, emergency departments, and hospitals occur each year. The rate of musculoskeletal diseases far outstrips that of circulatory diseases and respiratory diseases, which affect about one in three persons, with the majority reporting relatively easily treatable conditions such as chronic hypertension or hay fever and bronchitis.

The cost of treating major musculoskeletal diseases, which often includes long-term pain and disability, is also greater than for treatment of many other common health conditions. Yet research dollars to identify causes, create new treatments, and reduce pain and disability remain much lower than that of other health conditions.

With the aging of the US population, musculoskeletal diseases are becoming a greater burden every year. The pages of this publication illustrate the magnitude of musculoskeletal diseases on the US population, and provide a small slice of the cost and impact on the US economy.

The Burden of Musculoskeletal Diseases in the United States: Prevalence, Societal and Economic Cost (BMUS) was produced by experts from rheumatology, orthopaedic surgery, physical medicine and rehabilitation, and other musculoskeletal health care specialties to provide a better understanding of the extent and burden of current and future musculoskeletal diseases as the proportion of the U.S. population over the age of 65 increases. Preventive measures and new treatments are urgently needed to alleviate the pain and disability caused by musculoskeletal diseases.

The Burden of Musculoskeletal Diseases in the United States, with chapters including data charts and graphs covering the major condition areas, is a joint project of a number of musculoskeletal organizations under the auspices of the United States Bone and Joint Initiative. The full publication, an Executive Summary, and Fact Sheets can be viewed at