icd9 code back painICD 9 codes are used to identify the type of illness a patient has.  ICD 9 codes have been used for the past several years and have since been largely replaced by a revised coding system, now referred to as the ICD 10 codes.

The ICD 9 code for unspecified back pain is 724.5.  This is a commonly used code and is the 7th most common code used in the emergency room.  As the back is a large area of the body, there are several codes in place to help insurance companies learn more about the pain.

ICD 9 to ICD 10 Codes

As mentioned, ICD 9 codes are no longer in use to identify illnesses such as back pain.  Fortunately, not much has changed when it comes to coding for back pain.  Back pain in both coding mechanisms is referred to as “dorsalgia unspecified”.  The ICD 9 code for dorsalgia unspecified is 724.5, while the ICD 10 code is M54.9. This is the code most commonly used when identifying unspecified back pain.

Back pain is extremely common.  Most people suffer from back pain because they use poor mechanics and posture when lifting things.  Other causes of back pain include sports injuries, muscle strains, and accidental injuries.  While the actual cause of the back pain may be different, the symptoms are usually the same and are given the same ICD 9 and ICD 10 code.

The Coding

The coding of back pain depends on the duration, severity, location, and frequency of the back pain.  Things that make the back pain worse or better, and associated signs and symptoms that go along with back pain are considered in the coding process.  If the patient has a stiff neck or pain running down the back of the legs, this is generally coded more specifically than just “dorsalgia unspecified”.  The code used to identify the pain is also used to identify the type of treatment the patient will need.

As mentioned, there is little difference between the ICD 9 coding for back pain and the ICD 10 coding for back pain.  For example, the coding has changed for these types of back pain:

  • Back pain unspecified. This has an ICD 9 code of 724.5 and an ICD 10 code of M54.9
  • Pain in the thoracic spine. This has an ICD 9 code of 724.1 and an ICD 10 code of M54.6
  • Low back pain syndrome. This has an ICD 9 code of 724.2 and an ICD 10 code of M54.5
  • Psychogenic back pain. This has an ICD 9 code of 307.59 and an ICD 10 code of F45.41.  Note that the codes for psychogenic back pain and structural back pain are quite different because psychogenic pain originates in the mind rather than in the back itself.

The treatment for pain in the back depends on the severity of the pain, the patient’s medical history, and the type of pain the patient is experiencing.  Regardless of the ICD 9 code, most pain in the back gets better with exercise and rest.  Rarely is surgery necessary.

Patients with an ICD 9 code of 724.5 generally receive an exercise program, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, narcotics, heat therapy, cold therapy, and alternative therapies, such as acupuncture and massage.

Pain due to psychological factors are coded as 307.59.  This receives completely different treatment as is given to patients with ICD 9 codes of 724.5 and related back pain codes.  The treatment for psychogenic pain involves things like psychotherapy or medications that control the perception of pain, such as anti-seizure drugs and antidepressants.

Always consult a doctor if you have sever back pain!

The ICD 9 Code for Back Pain, have you suffered from this?