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Healthcare Insights

The most common sports and activities leading to injuries

Summer is officially in full swing, and many athletes are out on the field playing the sports they know and love. While a great way to stay in shape and maintain a healthy lifestyle, sports and physical activity also come with their fair share of risks.

Thanks to information captured via ICD-10 codes in medical claims, we can evaluate which physical activities most frequently lead to injuries.

What is included in the ICD-10 code set for activities?

Codes starting with Y93 are supplemental ICD-10 codes used when an activity is the cause of a person seeking healthcare for an injury or a health condition. In other words, it provides context on what was happening at the time of injury or what may have caused the injury. These codes can be used for both minor injuries and conditions that are from the long-term cumulative effects of an activity.

This code may be applied, for example, if someone sprains their ankle while playing basketball or scrapes their leg while going for a jog.

Using data from the Definitive Healthcare Atlas All-Payor Claims product, we evaluated the 10 most common sports and physical activities resulting in injuries. The analysis evaluated claims data from the activity category (Y93) of the ICD-10 code set from the calendar year 2022.

Top 10 most common sports and activities related to injuries

RankICD-10 diagnosis codeICD-10 diagnosis code descriptionPercent of 2022 activity category diagnosis codes Explore dataset
1Y9389Activity, other specified24.40%Explore
2Y939Activity, unspecified8.00%Explore
3Y9367Activity, basketball7.10%Explore
4Y9301Activity, walking, marching and hiking6.50%Explore
5Y9361Activity, american tackle football5.80%Explore
6Y93C9Activity, other involving computer technology and electronic devices4.60%Explore
7Y9366Activity, soccer4.60%Explore
8Y9302Activity, running3.90%Explore
9Y9364Activity, baseball2.40%Explore
10Y9344Activity, trampolining2.40%Explore

Fig. 1. Data from the Definitive Healthcare’s Atlas All-Payor Claims product for the calendar year 2022. Claims data is sourced from multiple medical claims clearinghouses in the United States and updated monthly. Accessed June 2023.

What are the most common sports and activities that result in injuries?

The first and second most common activities are ICD-10 code Y9389, or “Activity, other specified,” and ICD-10 code Y939, also known as “Activity, unspecified.” The first code accounted for 24.4% of sports-related diagnoses last year, while the latter accounted for 8%. Both codes are fairly general, but the difference between the two is that “other specified” means that the physician knows what the activity is, but there is no specific code available to assign. An example of this would be someone cutting their hand while doing auto repair work.

By contrast, “unspecified” means that there is not enough information in the medical record for the coder to assign a specific activity. An example of when this type of code could be used is after a patient comes into a hospital after injuring themselves but is vague in describing what they were doing at the time. Another example is if a physician didn’t capture enough information in the electronic health record to note the specific activity behind the injury. Because there is not enough information available to the coder to make a decision on the activity, they would assign this code.

The third most common diagnosis is the first specific sports-related activity on the list. ICD-10 code Y9367, or “Activity, basketball,” accounts for 7.1% of activity diagnoses last year. Playing basketball can lead to a wide variety of injuries, including sprains, knee injuries, jammed fingers, and bruises. Basketball is also the most played sport in the U.S., which helps to explain its position on this list.

Other popular sports in the top 10 include football, soccer, running, and baseball. Interestingly, football takes the fifth place, despite its reputation for major injuries such as concussions. Hockey, another physically demanding sport, is also not included on the list despite also being a popular sport with major league teams.

While hockey doesn’t make the list, there are some surprising entries such as being injured while trampolining or using electronic devices.

What types of providers can help with sports-related injuries?

When partaking in physical activity, it’s possible to injure virtually any part of your body in one way or another. Luckily, athletes have many different options when it comes to seeking care for sports-related injuries.

Visiting a hospital will always be a safe bet, but your primary care doctor, a family medicine practice, or an urgent care center will also be able to treat most sports injuries. However, depending on the injury, a patient might prefer one particular healthcare setting over another. If more extensive care is required, they’ll often refer you to a rehabilitation clinic or an orthopedic practice for surgery.

There are also specific sports-medicine specialists and pain management specialists who can help with preventing and treating sports and activity related injuries.

What is sports medicine?

Sports medicine is a field dedicated to treating and preventing injuries related to sports and physical activity. Any physically active person at any skill level can benefit from sports medicine. Sports medicine is not a board-certified medical specialty, and most healthcare professionals in sports medicine are actually certified in other specialties but then receive additional training in sports medicine.

Why is sports medicine important to healthcare?

Sports medicine plays an important role in providing care to anyone who has been injured due to high levels of physical activity. This can include children or adults playing a sport or professionals who work in physically demanding fields.

Furthermore, sports medicine is essential to helping patients recover from sports injuries so they can quickly return to their physical routine. Besides performing common sports injury procedures, sports medicine also supports healthy nutrition and injury prevention.

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Healthcare Insights are developed with healthcare commercial intelligence from the Definitive Healthcare platform. Want even more insights? Start a free trial now and get access to the latest healthcare commercial intelligence on hospitals, physicians, and other healthcare providers.