Running for physical exercise, sports activity and recreation is a great way to maintain good health, but it can also be a common source of injury. Most running injuries occur due to repetitive movements or when you push yourself too hard. The way your body moves also plays an active role. According to the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, approximately 70 percent of all runners will get injured at some point in their running life. In most cases, overuse injuries occur due to continuous repetitive movement without adequate stretching and muscle conditioning. With more number of sports injuries occurring, accurate orthopedic medical coding is becoming crucial and complex. Relying on the services of a reputable medical billing company is a feasible option. Such companies provide the services of experienced medical coders to assign the proper codes to report the services rendered so as to ensure appropriate reimbursement.

Running Injuries

Running injuries may be acute or chronic. Acute injuries are sudden, sometimes violent and include broken bones, sprains, and lacerations. On the other hand, overuse injuries occur when a low-grade, abnormal force is repeatedly applied over a long period of time. In fact, these are the most common running injuries. Common signs and symptoms that you may be injured or need to stop your habit of running include – pain and discomfort (while running), joint stiffness, inability to sleep, niggles, pain at rest, dizziness or lightheaded feeling, headache during or after running, limping and shortness of breath.

Common Running Injuries and Their Diagnosis Codes

A beginner runner, as his/her body is not used to repetitive motion, may often experience some kind of pain and aches. This pain may get better or fade away during the normal process. In some cases, the body may even take a few months to adjust to the new physical stress that it is exposed to. However, if the pain persists and gets worse, it may be the sign of an actual injury. Here we discuss the ICD-10 codes for five common running injuries –

  • Patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS) – Commonly known as Runners Knee, this condition causes dull pain and irritation at the front of your knee, around your kneecap (patella). The pain can occur due to muscle imbalances and injuries and can grow worse during running, walking up or down the stairs, sitting with a bent knee for long periods of time and kneeling or squatting. ICD-10 codes for reporting a diagnosis of PFPS include –
    • M22.2 – Patellofemoral disorders
    • M22.2X – Patellofemoral disorders
    • M22.2X1 – Patellofemoral disorders, right knee
    • M22.2X2 – Patellofemoral disorders, left knee
    • M22.2X9 – Patellofemoral disorders, unspecified knee
  • Achilles Tendinitis (AT) – In simple terms, Achilles Tendinitis (AT) refers to inflammation of the Achilles tendon. Formerly called tendinitus, this condition causes pain and swelling along the back of the leg near the heel, especially when walking, running, rising up on toes, and stretching the calf muscles. Treatment includes rest, icing the area, and stretching the calf muscles which help temporarily relieve symptoms. The ICD-10 codes for Achilles Tendinitis (AT) –
    • M76.6 – Achilles tendinitis
    • M76.60 – Achilles tendinitis, unspecified leg
    • M76.61 – Achilles tendinitis, right leg
    • M76.62 – Achilles tendinitis, left leg
  • Iliotibial Band Syndrome – IT band syndrome is an overuse injury of the connective tissues (that are located on the lateral or outer part of thigh and knee) causing pain on the outside of the knee, felt while bending and straightening the knee. It is a common cause of lateral knee pain, particularly among runners, military personnel, and cyclists. Taking adequate rest and applying ice packs for about 10-15 minutes every hour can help reduce pain and inflammation. ICD-10 diagnosis codes for reporting IT band syndrome on the medical claims are –
    • M76.3 – Iliotibial band syndrome
    • M76.30 – Iliotibial band syndrome, unspecified leg
    • M76.31 – Iliotibial band syndrome, right leg
    • M76.32 – Iliotibial band syndrome, left leg
  • Plantar Fasciitis – One of the common causes for heel pain, plantar fasciitis involves inflammation of a thick band of tissue that runs across the bottom of your foot and connects your heel bone (plantar fascia). Stabbing pain that usually occurs with your first steps in the morning is one of the common symptoms of this condition. This running injury is more common among runners, but people who are obese and who wear shoes with inadequate support have an increased risk of plantar fasciitis. Orthopedic medical coding involves using the correct ICD-10 codes for reporting plantar fasciitis on the medical claims –
    • M72 – Fibroblastic disorders
    • M72.0 – Palmar fascial fibromatosis [Dupuytren]
    • M72.1 – Knuckle pads
    • M72.2 – Plantar fascial fibromatosis
    • M72.4 – Pseudosarcomatous fibromatosis
    • M72.6 – Necrotizing fasciitis
    • M72.8 – Other fibroblastic disorders
    • M72.9 – Fibroblastic disorder, unspecified
  • Shin Splints – Shin splints (also called Medial Tibial Stress syndrome) refers to pain along the shin bone (tibia) – the large bone in front of the lower leg. The condition which is common among runners and dancers arises due to sudden change in training routines, training volume and intensity. Adopting self-care measures like rest, applying ice packs and taking over-the-counter pain medications could help. ICD-10 codes include –
    • S86.89 – Other injury of other muscles and tendons at lower leg level
    • S86.891 – Other injury of other muscle(s) and tendon(s) at lower leg level, right leg
    • S86.892 – Other injury of other muscle(s) and tendon(s) at lower leg level, left leg
    • S86.899 – Other injury of other muscle(s) and tendon(s) at lower leg level, unspecified leg

Preventing the incidence of running injuries requires having a clear understanding about the potential risk factors associated with the injury condition and knowing the steps to prevent them in the long run. The above list of running injuries is not comprehensive as it comprises only the five most common running injuries. Physicians and orthopedists may recommend a combination of medications and other non-surgical treatment modalities aimed at reducing the symptoms of these sports injuries. Treating and managing patients with these injuries and taking care of the essential documentation requirements can be quite taxing for physicians. Outsourcing medical coding tasks is a practical option to ensure appropriate care as well as accurate clinical documentation of the above-mentioned injury conditions.