The Burden of Musculoskeletal Diseases in the United States






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 site illustrate the magnitude of musculoskeletal diseases on the US population, and provide a small slice of the cost and impact on the US economy.