Musculoskeletal injuries description of an under-recognized injury problem among military personnel

Am J Prev Med. 2010 Jan;38(1 Suppl):S61-70. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2009.10.021.


Introduction: Although injuries are recognized as a leading health problem in the military, the size of the problem is underestimated when only acute traumatic injuries are considered. Injury-related musculoskeletal conditions are common in this young, active population. Many of these involve physical damage caused by micro-trauma (overuse) in recreation, sports, training, and job performance. The purpose of this analysis was to determine the incidence of injury-related musculoskeletal conditions in the military services (2006) and describe a standardized format in which to categorize and report them.

Methods: The subset of musculoskeletal diagnoses found to be injury-related in previous military investigations was identified. Musculoskeletal injuries among nondeployed, active duty service members in 2006 were identified from military medical surveillance data. A matrix was used to report and categorize these conditions by injury type and body region.

Results: There were 743,547 injury-related musculoskeletal conditions in 2006 (outpatient and inpatient, combined), including primary and nonprimary diagnoses. In the matrix, 82% of injury-related musculoskeletal conditions were classified as inflammation/pain (overuse), followed by joint derangements (15%) and stress fractures (2%). The knee/lower leg (22%), lumbar spine (20%), and ankle/foot (13%) were leading body region categories.

Conclusions: When assessing the magnitude of the injury problem in the military services, injury-related musculoskeletal conditions should be included. When these injuries are combined with acute traumatic injuries, there are almost 1.6 million injury-related medical encounters each year. The matrix provides a standardized format to categorize these injuries, make comparisons over time, and focus prevention efforts on leading injury types and/or body regions.

MeSH terms

  • Cumulative Trauma Disorders / epidemiology
  • Fractures, Bone / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Military Medicine / statistics & numerical data*
  • Military Personnel / statistics & numerical data*
  • Musculoskeletal System / injuries*
  • Population Surveillance / methods
  • Sprains and Strains / epidemiology
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Wounds and Injuries / epidemiology*