Prevalence of Select Medical Conditions

United States Population
Print Friendly PDF version of this pageSave this page/section only
Print this page onlyPrint this page/section only
Print Friendly PDF version of this pageSave this page/section and all subsections
 
Print this page/section and all subsectionsPrint this page/section and all subsections
I.B.0

Lead Author(s): 

Stuart I. Weinstein, MD
Edward H. Yelin, PhD

Supporting Author(s): 

Sylvia I. Watkins-Castillo, PhD

In the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) in 2012, musculoskeletal medical conditions were reported by 126.6 million adults in the United States, representing more than one in two persons age 18 and over of the estimated 2012 population. The rate of chronic musculoskeletal conditions found in the adult population is 76% greater than that of chronic circulatory conditions, which include coronary and heart conditions, and nearly twice that of all chronic respiratory conditions. On an age-adjusted basis, musculoskeletal conditions are reported by 54 persons per every 100 in the population. This compares to a rate of 31 and 28 persons per every 100 in the population for circulatory and respiratory conditions, respectively. The NHIS annual survey of self-reported health conditions is used throughout this chapter to highlight chronic health conditions of the US population. (Reference Table 1.2.1 PDF CSV)
Age-Adjusted Rate of Self-Reported Select Medical Conditions by Sex, United States 2012
On an age-adjusted basis, females report a higher rate of occurrence than males for most major medical conditions. Among females, 56 out of every 100 females in the population report musculoskeletal conditions; among males the rate is only slightly lower at 51 per 100, a slight increase in recent years. (Reference Table 1.2.1 PDF CSV)

Musculoskeletal conditions are found among all age groups, with the proportion of persons reporting these conditions increasing with age. Musculoskeletal conditions are reported by nearly three of four (70%) persons age 65 years and over. This compares to the 61% of persons age 65 to 74 years, and only slightly less than the 72% of those aged 75 years and older, reporting circulatory conditions, the majority of whom report chronic hypertension. (Reference Table 1.2.2 PDF CSV and Table 1.3.2 PDF CSV)

Musculoskeletal conditions were reported at a higher rate among whites and persons of mixed or other races, with 56 and 57 persons, respectively, in every 100 person in the population reporting a musculoskeletal condition. Among persons of the black/African American race, 48 in 100 reported a musculoskeletal condition. Persons of Asian descent reported the lowest level of musculoskeletal conditions, at a rate of 40 persons in every 100 persons in the population. (Reference Table 1.2.3 PDF CSV) The rate of musculoskeletal conditions among black/African Americans and those of Asian descent increased by several percentage points from those reported in 2008.1

  • 1. The Burden of Musculoskeletal Diseases in the United States, Second Edition, American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, Rosemont, IL. 2008

Topic Graphs

To save an individual graph, right-click and select Save Image As

Prevalence of Select Medical Conditions

I.B.0

In the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) in 2012, musculoskeletal medical conditions were reported by 126.6 million adults in the United States, representing more than one in two persons age 18 and over of the estimated 2012 population. The rate of chronic musculoskeletal conditions found in the adult population is 76% greater than that of chronic circulatory conditions, which include coronary and heart conditions, and nearly twice that of all chronic respiratory conditions. On an age-adjusted basis, musculoskeletal conditions are reported by 54 persons per every 100 in the population. This compares to a rate of 31 and 28 persons per every 100 in the population for circulatory and respiratory conditions, respectively. The NHIS annual survey of self-reported health conditions is used throughout this chapter to highlight chronic health conditions of the US population. (Reference Table 1.2.1 PDF CSV)
Age-Adjusted Rate of Self-Reported Select Medical Conditions by Sex, United States 2012
On an age-adjusted basis, females report a higher rate of occurrence than males for most major medical conditions. Among females, 56 out of every 100 females in the population report musculoskeletal conditions; among males the rate is only slightly lower at 51 per 100, a slight increase in recent years. (Reference Table 1.2.1 PDF CSV)

Musculoskeletal conditions are found among all age groups, with the proportion of persons reporting these conditions increasing with age. Musculoskeletal conditions are reported by nearly three of four (70%) persons age 65 years and over. This compares to the 61% of persons age 65 to 74 years, and only slightly less than the 72% of those aged 75 years and older, reporting circulatory conditions, the majority of whom report chronic hypertension. (Reference Table 1.2.2 PDF CSV and Table 1.3.2 PDF CSV)

Musculoskeletal conditions were reported at a higher rate among whites and persons of mixed or other races, with 56 and 57 persons, respectively, in every 100 person in the population reporting a musculoskeletal condition. Among persons of the black/African American race, 48 in 100 reported a musculoskeletal condition. Persons of Asian descent reported the lowest level of musculoskeletal conditions, at a rate of 40 persons in every 100 persons in the population. (Reference Table 1.2.3 PDF CSV) The rate of musculoskeletal conditions among black/African Americans and those of Asian descent increased by several percentage points from those reported in 2008.1

  • 1. The Burden of Musculoskeletal Diseases in the United States, Second Edition, American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, Rosemont, IL. 2008

Musculoskeletal, Circulatory, and Respiratory Conditions

I.B.1

On an age-adjusted basis, musculoskeletal conditions are reported equally or more frequently than other common chronic or serious medical conditions related to the circulatory or respiratory systems by persons age 18 and older. Three of the four most common medical conditions reported in 2012 were musculoskeletal conditions: low back pain, chronic joint pain, and arthritis. The other most commonly reported medical condition is chronic hypertension. (Reference Table 1.3.1 PDF CSV)
Prevalence of Top Three Self-Reported Medical Conditions, by Age, United States 2012
Nearly 66 million adults reported low back pain, the most frequently reported musculoskeletal condition, with an age-adjusted rate of 28 in 100 persons age 18 or older reporting this condition. Among persons reporting low back pain, nearly 23 million, or more than one-third, also reported pain radiating down the leg below the knee. Cervical/neck pain is also a commonly reported musculoskeletal disease, reported by 33.5 million adults in 2012.

In recent years, chronic joint pain, defined as joint pain lasting three months or longer, has approached the level of low back pain as a common musculoskeletal condition. Chronic joint pain, was reported by 63.1 million adults age 18 and older (27 of 100 persons), while 51.8 million (22 in 100) reported having been diagnosed with arthritis. Chronic joint pain and arthritis are not mutually exclusive and may be reported by the same individual. Although age is a general predictor of chronic joint pain and arthritis, with more than 4 in 10 persons age 65 years and older reporting one or both of these conditions, the rate of reported chronic joint pain in younger persons is rapidly increasing. In 2012, nearly one in five persons age 18 to 44 reported they experienced chronic joint pain, while one-third (35%) age 45 to 64 reported chronic joint pain. Active lifestyles will continue to be a major cause of joint pain in the coming years. (Reference Table 1.3.2 PDF CSV) Prevalence of Self-Reported Musculoskeletal Diseases, by Age, United States 2012
Chronic hypertension, defined as hypertension diagnosed at two or more physician visits, is the only other medical condition that approaches the rate of chronic musculoskeletal conditions. Among adults age 18 and older, 59.8 million persons reported chronic hypertension in 2012, an age-adjusted rate of 25 in 100 persons. Coronary or heart conditions, which increase with age, were reported by 26.6 million, a rate of 11 per 100 persons. Chronic respiratory ailments, while common, are reported in significantly lower numbers, with sinusitis, reported by 28.5 million (12 per 100) persons, the most common condition.

Sex is a greater predictor of chronic musculoskeletal and respiratory conditions than of chronic circulatory conditions. Among all musculoskeletal and respiratory conditions, females are more likely to report a specific condition than are males. Similar proportions of males and females reported chronic circulatory conditions in 2012. (Reference Table 1.3.1 PDF CSV)

Chronic circulatory and respiratory conditions do not show the racial variation seen in musculoskeletal conditions, with the exception of the Asian population reporting nearly all conditions at lower rates than other races. Musculoskeletal conditions, overall, are reported in higher proportions by persons of the white race than by persons of the black/African American or Asia races. Persons of other or mixed race as well as persons of white race report slightly higher rates of musculoskeletal conditions that those of the black/African American and Asian race. Chronic hypertension is highest among those of black/African American races. (Reference Table 1.3.3 PDF CSV)

Chronic Joint Pain

I.B.2

Chronic joint pain increases with age, but peaks in the 65- to 74-year age group. Among the 63.1 million persons reporting chronic joint pain in 2012, knee pain is the most frequently cited, with 40 million people reporting knee pain. Chronic knee pain is reported by all ages older than 18Proportion of Population [1] Age 18 and Older Reporting Joint Pain [2], United States 2012 years, with more than one in four aged 65 and older reporting knee pain. Shoulder pain, reported by 18.7 million of those age 18 and older, is the second most common joint for chronic pain, with rates fairly equal for those age 45 and older. Hip pain was reported by 15.3 million persons age 18 and older.

While multiple joints can be the source of chronic joint pain, overall, one in four people over the age of 18 report chronic joint pain. The ratio jumps to more than two in five after the age of 65 years. However, even among younger adults age 18 to 44, about one in six report chronic joint pain. (Reference Table 1.4.2 PDF CSV)

Females report higher rates of chronic joint pain than do males, with the exception of shoulder pain. Race is not a variable in the rate of chronic joint pain, with the exception of those of Asian race, who report lower joint pain rates than other racial groups. (Reference Table 1.4.1 PDF CSV and Table 1.4.3 PDF CSV)

Topic Tables

Click on an image to view PDF