Lead Author(s): 

Andrew N. Pollak, MD

Supporting Author(s): 

Sylvia I. Watkins-Castillo, PhD

Musculoskeletal injuries are injuries occurring to the neck, spine, pelvis, and extremities. As defined by medical diagnosis codes, musculoskeletal injuries include fractures, derangements, dislocations, sprains and strains, contusions, crushing injuries, open wounds, and traumatic amputations. They are often caused by sudden physical contact of the body with external objects, but the most common cause is falls. Additional major causes of musculoskeletal injuries are sports injuries, playground accidents, motor vehicle crashes, civilian interpersonal violence, war injuries, stress injuries, overexertion, and repetitive workplace injuries.1

Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) are injuries or disorders of the muscles, nerves, tendons, joints, cartilage, and disorders of the nerves; tendons; muscles; and supporting structures of the upper and lower limbs, neck, and lower back that are caused, precipitated, or exacerbated by sudden exertion or prolonged exposure to physical factors such as repetition, force, vibration, or awkward posture.2

In 2010/2011, more than 65.8 million annual episodes of treatment for musculoskeletal injuries were recorded in physician offices, emergency departments, outpatient clinics, and hospitalizations. This compares to 85.1 million episodes of treatment for all kinds of injuries, including burns, poisoning, and drowning, a number that is down by 15% from the 2006/2007 reporting year.

  • 1. The International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision, Clinical Modification (ICD-9-CM), based on the World Health Organization's Ninth Revision, International Classification of Diseases (ICD-9). ICD-9-CM is the official system of assigning codes to diagnoses and procedures associated with hospital utilization in the United States.
  • 2. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  Accessed June 2, 2014.


  • 2014

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