The Burden of Musculoskeletal Diseases in the United States
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An updated 3rd edition of this publication is set to be released by year-end 2014, based on the most current figures available from the National Center for Health Statistics and other data sources including the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project, and the Medical Expenditures Panel Survey. The information and data provided in the 2nd edition currently presented on this site was published in 2011 with data from 2008.
  • One in two adults report a musculoskeletal condition requiring medical attention.
  • Annual direct and indirect costs for bone and joint health are 950 billion – 7.4% of the gross domestic product.
  • Research currently less than 2% of the NIH budget, while burden of musculoskeletal conditions expected to escalate in the next 10-20 years due to the aging population, and sedentary lifestyles.
  • More research urgently required if health and economic burden to be contained or lowered.

Musculoskeletal disorders and diseases are the leading cause of disability in the United States and account for more than one-half of all chronic conditions in people over 50 years of age in developed countries. The economic impact of these conditions is also staggering: For the years 2004-2006 the sum of the direct expenditures in health care costs and the indirect expenditures in lost wages has been estimated to be $950 billion dollars annually, or 7.4% of the national gross domestic product.

The Burden of Musculoskeletal Diseases in the United States (BMUS) presents a compelling argument for greater understanding and expanding research.

Using an objective scientific research design, BMUS measures the incidence and prevalence of musculoskeletal conditions and projects trends. It presents the latest national data illuminating the physical and economic costs.

Beyond the statistics, the human toll in terms of the diminished quality of life is immeasurable. This situation is unlikely to improve in the foreseeable future and will likely be intensified by current demographic trends, including the graying of the baby boomer population, the epidemic of morbid obesity and the higher recreational activity levels of our elderly population.

Despite these compelling facts, the investment in musculoskeletal research in the United States lags behind other chronic conditions. While musculoskeletal diseases are common, disabling and costly, they remain under appreciated, under recognized and under resourced by our national policy makers.

In March 2002, President George W. Bush declared the years 2002 – 2011 the National Bone and Joint Decade. The mission of the U.S. Bone and Joint Decade is to “promote and facilitate collaboration among organizations committed to improving bone and joint health through education and research.”

BMUS serves the mission of the Decade in that several professional organizations concerned with musculoskeletal health have collaborated to tabulate recent data on the burden of musculoskeletal diseases to educate health care professionals, policy makers and the public. It represents a true collaboration of a coalition of professional organizations committed to the mission of the U.S. Bone and Joint Decade.

The data should stimulate increased investment in basic, translational, clinical and health policy research to delineate the underlying mechanisms of these conditions and their response to treatment. Through such research, novel preventive and therapeutic approaches will emerge which promise to mitigate the societal and personal impact of musculoskeletal disease.

Purchase and Downloading

You can purchase a hard copy version of BMUS by clicking here. Book purchases are made through the Electronic Catalogue of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.

Alternatively, you can download a PDF version of each chapter directly from this web site (top right).

You will also find on this web site an Executive Summary, Highlights, and Trends. All can be downloaded. The Condition Kits mirror the chapters by providing an outline of the musculoskeletal conditions that are the subject of each chapter in BMUS. If you are not a healthcare professional, these condition kits will help you better understand the prevalence data presented in BMUS.

What Can You Do?

If you are a legislator or policymaker, you should be concerned by the data presented in BMUS. As baby boomers become eligible in 2011 Medicare costs are going to skyrocket due to musculoskeletal conditions.

It is urgent that research funding be increased so that improved diagnosis and treatment can be developed. It is also urgent that more resources be put into prevention education, and funding patient groups.

If you are a patient or member of the public you must be concerned, because the only means to improve diagnosis and treatment is through more research. As a patient with an existing condition, communicating the need for more research to legislators, policymakers, and research funding organizations is vital. Legislators and policymakers need you to tell them what a burden musculoskeletal disease is, how it affects you, and how important their role is in approving increased funding for research and prevention education. Personal stories, in addition to the data presented in BMUS, are powerful in demonstrating how more research can improve your situation, and that of so many others afflicted with the same condition. Family members and members of the public concerned with prevention are also powerful advocates.

If you are a researcher BMUS provides key data to justify and to support your grant applications.

If you are a healthcare provider BMUS provides data for your presentations to legislators, other healthcare professionals, and community presentations. You have an important role to play in increasing awareness of musculoskeletal health, and like patients and the public, as advocates for increased research and prevention education.

If you are a member of the media, click here for more information about how to use BMUS.

Chapter Downloads (PDFs)

Introduction, Preface and Foreword


Spine: Low Back and Neck Pain

Spinal Deformity and
Related Conditions

Arthritis and Joint Pain

Osteoporosis and Bone Health


Congenital and Developmental Conditions

Neoplasms of Bone and
Connective Tissue

Health Care Utilization and
Economic Cost


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