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Abstract

Objective. To provide an indication of the economic, social, and psychological impact of musculoskeletal conditions in the United States.

Methods. Review of the literature combined with estimates of data concerning health care utilization and acute and chronic disability due to musculoskeletal conditions, from the 1990–1992 National Health Interview Survey.

Results. The cost of musculoskeletal conditions was $149.4 billion in 1992, of which 48% was due to direct medical care costs and the remainder was due to indirect costs resulting from wage losses. This amount translates to ˜2.5% of the Gross National Product, a sharp rise since the prior studies, even if part of the increase is an artifact of improved accounting methods. Each year, persons with musculoskeletal conditions make 315 million physician visits, have more than 8 million hospital admissions, and experience ˜1.5 billion days of restricted activity. Approximately 42% of persons with musculoskeletal conditions–more than 17 million in all–are limited in their activities.

Conclusion. The economic and social costs of musculoskeletal conditions are substantial. These conditions are responsible for a sizable amount of health care use and disability, and they significantly affect the psychological status of the individuals with the conditions as well as their families.