When work from home became the new normal due to COVID-19, spaces in millions of homes became offices. Physicians, especially pain management specialists, have reported a surge in patients with work-from-home injuries. Medical billing and coding companies are helping providers report various musculoskeletal disorders, eye problems due to prolonged computer use, and more.

Here are six common work-from-home injuries and their ICD-10 codes:

  • Neck and Back Pain: Homes were not meant to be offices and may not suit workers ergonomically. Most ergonomic concerns relate to poor workstation set up and posture, including issues relating to laptop use, low monitor heights, nonadjustable chairs without armrests, and hard desk surfaces. A Charity Versus Arthritis survey of people working remotely in the lockdown reported that lower back pain was the most common complaint, with 50% of respondents reporting this, followed by neck pain (36%) and shoulder pain (28%) (www.personneltoday.com). Neck and back pain are caused by leaning, slouching, or using a workstation that is too high or too low.
     
    ICD-10 codes for back and neck pain include:

    M54.2 Cervicalgia
    M54.30 Sciatica, unspecified side
    M54.31 Sciatica, right side
    M54.32 Sciatica, left side
    M54.40 Lumbago with sciatica, unspecified side
    M54.41 Lumbago with sciatica, right side
    M54.42 Lumbago with sciatica, left side
    M54.5 Low back pain
    M54.6 Pain in thoracic spine
    M54.89 Other dorsalgia
    M54.9 Dorsalgia, unspecified

  • Shoulder Pain and Stiffness: Long hours of sitting at a computer with the arm outstretched to wield the mouse can cause shoulder pain and stiffness. This common repetitive strain injury (RSI) is often referred to as mouse shoulder. Shoulder pain is reported using the following ICD-10 codes:
     
    M25.51 Pain in shoulder
    M25.511 Pain in right shoulder
    M25.512 Pain in left shoulder
    M25.519 Pain in unspecified shoulder

    Adhesive capsulitis or frozen shoulder or is a common condition caused by computer overuse. The ICD-10 codes for frozen shoulder are:

    M75.01 Adhesive capsulitis of right shoulder
    M75.02 Adhesive capsulitis of left shoulder

    Other codes to report shoulder problems:

    M25.611 Stiffness of right shoulder, not elsewhere classified
    M25.612 Stiffness of left shoulder, not elsewhere classified
    M75.41 Impingement syndrome of right shoulder
    M75.42 Impingement syndrome of left shoulder

  • Computer Elbow: Not having an ergonomic set up and poor posture when typing on the keyboard are the main causes of computer elbow or lateral epicondylitis. The ICD-10 codes for the condition are:
     
    M77.1 Lateral epicondylitis
    M77.10 Lateral epicondylitis, unspecified elbow
    M77.11 Lateral epicondylitis, right elbow
    M77.12 Lateral epicondylitis, left elbow
  •  

  • Soft tissue disorders related to use, overuse and pressure: M70.84

    M70.841 other soft tissue disorders related to use, overuse and pressure, right hand
    M70.842 other soft tissue disorders related to use, overuse and pressure, left hand
    M70.849 other soft tissue disorders related to use, overuse and pressure unspecified hand

  • Carpel Tunnel Syndrome: The carpal tunnel is a narrow passageway surrounded by bones and ligaments on the palm of the hand. Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is caused by pressure on the median nerve at the wrist, which may result in numbness, tingling, weakness, or muscle atrophy in the hand and fingers. Studies have found that CTS is associated with repetitive activities at work and holding the wrist extended, such as when using a keyboard or mouse. The ICD-10 code for carpel tunnel syndrome is: G56.0
     
    There are 3 options to code CTS:

    G56.00, carpal tunnel syndrome, unspecified upper limb
    G56.01, carpal tunnel syndrome, right upper limb
    G56.02, carpal tunnel syndrome, left upper limb

  • Computer Vision Syndrome: Digital-related eye strain is a common concern among people of all ages, but more prevalent in those who work on a computer for long stretches of time. Common symptoms include:
    • Tired, irritation, burning or itchy, watery or dry eyes
    • Blurred or double vision
    • Headache
    • Difficulty in focusing
    • Trouble shifting focus between monitor and other objects
    • Afterimages

    Codes to report diagnosis of computer vision syndrome are:

    ICD-10 H53.141 Visual discomfort, right eye
    H53.142 Visual discomfort, left eye
    H53.143 Visual discomfort, bilateral
    H53.149 Visual discomfort, unspecified

Use an External Cause Code

Code category Y93 in ICD-10 helps identify what activity the patient was engaged in when he or she became injured. Using an additional external cause code when can identify the activity causing disorder (Y93.-). When reporting computer-use related disorders, also report the following external cause code:

Y93.C1 Activity, computer keyboarding

Code Y93.C1 could support a workers’ compensation claim for carpal tunnel syndrome (www.hcpro.com).

Remote working is not going away soon. It’s important that workers create healthier work environments, take more breaks and ensure more movement. Making adjustments to the work setup can prevent ergonomic problems.

There are many ICD-10 codes to report musculoskeletal disorders and thorough, detailed documentation is critical to ensure accurate coding by medical coding service providers. Proper coding, in turn, can lead to appropriate and timely claims submission and payments for healthcare providers.