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  • New Data on Musculoskeletal Disease Highlight its Position as Major Contributor to Health Care Costs

    Musculoskeletal diseases aren't just widespread— they've also become a significant factor in the economy, with associated costs estimated at an amount equal to 5.76% of the US gross domestic product. That's just 1 of the insights offered in the latest edition of a detailed report on the impact of musculoskeletal conditions across the country.

    Advance-published sections of the US Bone and Joint Initiative's (USBJI) 4th edition of "The Burden of Musculoskeletal Diseases in the US" are now being rolled out at the USBJI website. The report compiles extensive data on a wide range of conditions, including low back pain, neck pain, arthritis, osteoporosis, and injuries both in aggregate and among special populations, and includes insight on economic impact. The latest edition also features a new section on neuromuscular diseases.

    According to USBJI, more than half of all adults in the US now report a chronic musculoskeletal condition—a rate that outpaces the prevalence of reported respiratory conditions (24%) and circulatory conditions including high blood pressure (42%). Chronic low back pain, joint pain, and disability make up 3 of the top 5 most commonly reported medical conditions, the report states.

    In turn, musculoskeletal conditions have become a major factor in health care costs—an estimated $332 billion between 2012 and 2014, according to USBJI, with costs likely to increase with an aging US population.

    Three chapters of the latest edition are now available, with more to be released in the coming weeks. USBJI hopes that the resources will help to highlight the need for more resources devoted to addressing prevention and treatment of musculoskeletal disorders.

    "In spite of [the overall prevalence and significant costs], research funding for musculoskeletal-related conditions remains substantially below that of other major health conditions, such as cancer and respiratory and circulatory diseases," the report states. "If health care costs in the future are to be contained, musculoskeletal diseases must come to the forefront of research."

    APTA is a founding member of USBJI.


    • If I were to play devil's advocate and take the stance of somebody who was in favor of keeping the therapy cap, couldn't I point to the $322 billion spent on musculoskeletal conditions and say we need to stop the increase in spending? For multiple reasons I feel that spending more for PT would drive costs down in the long-run, but how can we show that to be true?

      Posted by Jacob Raecker -> DFR\BH on 1/27/2018 9:06 PM

    • The answer to musculoskeletal conditions is not more treatment in the absence of understanding the cause of the problem, it's the enhancement of detailed biomechanical exams to detect the abnormal loadings of the body. Once we know this information, we can make corrections through multiple means to balance the loading before injury and degeneration occur. i.e. The Structural Fingerprint Exam.

      Posted by Dr. Tim Maggs on 7/18/2018 9:33 AM

    • Current mode of service delivery is incompetent, people gets better with physical therapy, but by the time the patient reaches to the therapist pain become more chronic in nature and is multi factorial. Need to identify qualified physical therapist ( Board Certified) and bring them to the forefront to provide primary care, there by preventing the condition to become chronic. Sinju Thomas PT, DPT, OCS, Cert. MDT sinjudpt@gmail.com

      Posted by Sinju Thomas -> @NW_=H on 3/29/2019 1:35 AM

    • We can't expect to stop the constant growth of MSK spending if we don't address the elephant in the room... the cost of co-pays per PT visit, the lack of convenience of obtaining physical therapy, and the CONTINUED lack of knowledge of what we do as a profession leads to a path that isn't pretty. Our reimbursement will go down as time goes by, patients will want to pay less and less for our services due to being unfamiliar, for example, that PTs can "treat backs!? (insert any body part in this comment...), and we have no hard push at providing value to the consumer who has no idea what we do. So we continue to depend on MDs as a referral source, insurance as the purse-strings, and outdated business models that burn professionals out before they ever get 5 years into the profession... How does this end well with zero innovation or technological push from the leaders in the profession? It won't be addressed until we take a serious look at these issues I've listed and come to grips that we are not meeting the patients where they're at! And I'm 100% biased, because we have answers that are being ignored with Telehealth...

      Posted by Rob on 5/7/2019 12:20 PM

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