Summary Primary Diagnosis

Musculoskeletal Conditions of Children and Adolescents

Lead Author(s): 

Scott B. Rosenfeld, MD

Supporting Author(s): 

Sylvia I. Watkins-Castillo, PhD

Of the 19 million health care visits by children and adolescents in 2012, 15.6 million had a primary diagnosis of a musculoskeletal-related condition. The greater proportion (75%) were for the treatment of traumatic injuries, again excluding sports injuries. The second and third most common primary diagnosis remained a pain syndrome (11%) and deformity (6%). Although other musculoskeletal related conditions accounted for 3% or fewer of total health care visits for a musculoskeletal-related condition, they nevertheless remain serious health concerns for children and adolescents. (Reference Table 7.1.2 PDF CSV)

Health Care Visits for Children and Adolescents Age 20 and Under with a Musculoskeletal (MSK) Related Diagnosis as Primary Diagnosis, United States 2012

Again, the majority of visits were to physicians’ offices (57%), while visits to an emergency department with a primary musculoskeletal-related condition diagnosis accounted for 28% of visits. Hospital discharges accounted for less than 1% of total visits with a primary musculoskeletal diagnosis. Health care visits that included a primary diagnosis of a musculoskeletal-related condition represented 6% of visits made by children and adolescents for any reason, but were 14% of all visits to the emergency department. (Reference Table 7.1.2 PDF CSV)

Total Children and Adolescent Musculoskeletal (MSK) Discharges/Visits for Primary Diagnoses by Source, United States 2012


  • 2014

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