Skip to main content

Military Health System

Clear Your Browser Cache

This website has recently undergone changes. Users finding unexpected concerns may care to clear their browser's cache to ensure a seamless experience.

Surveillance Snapshot: Medical Separation from Service Among Incident Cases of Osteoarthritis and Spondylosis, Active Component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2016–2020

Image of Cover 5. Marines hike to the next training location during Exercise Baccarat in Aveyron, Occitanie, France, Oct.16, 2021. Exercise Baccarat is a three-week joint exercise with Marines and the French Foreign Legion that challenges forces with physical and tactical training. Photo By: Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Jennifer Reyes

Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common adult joint disease and predominantly involves the weight-bearing joints.1 This condition, including spondylosis (OA of the spine), results in significant disability and resource utilization and is a leading cause of medical separation from military service.2 A recent MSMR analysis described the incidence of OA and spondylosis diagnoses among active component service members of the U.S. Armed Forces from 2016 through 2020.3 During the 5-year surveillance period, crude overall rates of incident OA and spondylosis diagnoses were 630.9 per 100,000 person-years (p-yrs) and 958.2 per 100,000 p-yrs, respectively.3 Anatomic site-specific rates of OA varied by sex, race/ethnicity group, service, and military occupation.3

In this analysis, the numbers and percentages of incident cases of OA and/or spondylosis with a medical separation after the incident diagnosis (through 31 July 2021) were stratified by selected demographic and military characteristics. Separations from service were categorized as having been for medical reasons using interservice separation (ISC) codes (1010, 1011, 1012, 1013, 1014, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013).

Among a total of 94,036 unique individuals who qualified as incident cases of OA and/or spondylosis during 2016–2020, 17.9% (n=16,819) were medically separated from service by July 31, 2021 (data not shown). The median time from incident OA and/or spondylosis diagnosis and separation from military service was 430 days (mean=506 days) (data not shown). Median times to separation were broadly similar by demographic characteristics (sex, age group, and race/ethnicity group) with more pronounced differences apparent by service; the median time to separation was lowest for Army and Marine Corps members (392 days and 447 days, respectively) and highest for Air Force members (553 days) (data not shown). The percentages of incident cases aged 34 years or younger (range=23.3%–36.5%) who were medically separated were higher than the percentages among those aged 35 or older (range=5.9%–12.2%) (Figure). Army members with incident diagnoses of OA and/or spondylosis were more likely to be medically separated compared to their respective counterparts in the other services.

References

1. Abramoff B, Caldera FE. Osteoarthritis: Pathology, diagnosis, and treatment options. Med Clin North Am. 2020;104(2):293–311.

2. Patzkowski JC, Rivera JC, Ficke JR, Wenke JC. The changing face of disability in the US Army: the Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom effect. J Am Acad Orthop Surg. 2012;20 (Suppl 1):S23.

3. Williams VF, Ying S, Stahlman S. Update: Osteoarthritis and spondylosis, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2016–2020. MSMR. 2021;28(12):2–13.

FIGURE. Percentages of service members with incident OA and/or spondylosis diagnoses during 2016–2020 who were medically separated from military service, active component, U.S. Armed Forces

You also may be interested in...

Article
Feb 1, 2019

Update: Incidence of Glaucoma Diagnoses, Active Component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2013–2017

Glaucoma

Glaucoma is an eye disease that involves progressive optic nerve damage and vision loss, leading to blindness if undetected or untreated. This report describes an analysis using the Defense Medical Surveillance System to identify all active component service members with an incident diagnosis of glaucoma during the period between 2013 and 2017. The ...

Article
Feb 1, 2019

Re-evaluation of the MSMR Case Definition for Incident Cases of Malaria

Anopheles merus

The MSMR has been publishing the results of surveillance studies of malaria since 1995. The standard MSMR case definition uses Medical Event Reports and records of hospitalizations in counting cases of malaria. This report summarizes the performance of the standard MSMR case definition in estimating incident cases of malaria from 2015 through 2017. ...

Article
Feb 1, 2019

Outbreak of Acute Respiratory Illness Associated with Adenovirus Type 4 at the U.S. Naval Academy, 2016

Malaria case definition

Human adenoviruses (HAdVs) are known to cause respiratory illness outbreaks at basic military training (BMT) sites. HAdV type-4 and -7 vaccines are routinely administered at enlisted BMT sites, but not at military academies. During Aug.–Sept. 2016, U.S. Naval Academy clinical staff noted an increase in students presenting with acute respiratory ...

Article
Dec 1, 2018

Adrenal Gland Disorders, Active Component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2002–2017

During 2002–2017, the most common incident adrenal gland disorder among male and female service members was adrenal insufficiency and the least common was adrenomedullary hyperfunction. Adrenal insufficiency was diagnosed among 267 females (crude overall incidence rate: 8.2 cases per 100,000 person-years [p-yrs]) and 729 males (3.9 per 100,000 p-yrs). ...

Article
Dec 1, 2018

Incidence and Prevalence of the Metabolic Syndrome Using ICD-9 and ICD-10 Diagnostic Codes, Active Component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2002–2017

This report uses ICD-9 and ICD-10 codes (277.7 and E88.81, respectively) for the metabolic syndrome (MetS) to summarize trends in the incidence and prevalence of this condition among active component members of the U.S. Armed Forces between 2002 and 2017. During this period, the crude overall incidence rate of MetS was 7.5 cases per 100,000 person ...

Fact Sheet
Mar 30, 2017

Rhabdomyolysis by Location, Active Component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2012-2016 Fact Sheet

.PDF | 313.80 KB

This fact sheet provides details on Rhabdomyolysis by location for active component, U.S. Armed Forces during a five-year surveillance period from 2012 through 2016. The medical treatment facilities at nine installations diagnosed at least 50 cases each and, together approximately half (49.9%) of all diagnosed cases.

Fact Sheet
Mar 30, 2017

Demographic and Military Traits of Service Members Diagnosed as Traumatic Brain Injury Cases

.PDF | 283.00 KB

This fact sheet provides details on the demographic and military traits of service members diagnosed as traumatic brain injury (TBI) cases during a 16-year surveillance period from 2001 through 2016, a total of 276,858 active component service members received first-time diagnoses of TBI - a structural alteration of the brain or physiological ...

Fact Sheet
Mar 30, 2017

Heat Illnesses by Location, Active Component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2012-2016 Fact Sheet

.PDF | 267.04 KB

This fact sheet provides details on heat illnesses by location during a five-year surveillance period from 2012 through 2016. 11,967 heat-related illnesses were diagnosed at more than 250 military installations and geographic locations worldwide. Three Army Installations accounted for close to one-third of all heat illnesses during the period.

Last Updated: July 11, 2023
Follow us on Instagram Follow us on LinkedIn Follow us on Facebook Follow us on X Follow us on YouTube Sign up on GovDelivery