New Low Back Pain ICD-10 Codes

In the ICD-10 coding system, code M54.5 indicates chronic low back pain. The ICD-9 code for this condition is 724.2. The World Health Organization has developed a system to help medical professionals accurately identify the underlying cause of low back pain, sometimes called lumbago. This set of codes is intended to replace the existing ICD-9 code sets.


According to CMS, one of the most commonly billed rehab codes is M54.5 for low back pain, but that code will no longer be in the ICD-10 listings after October 1. Instead, the new codes for low back pain will provide a greater degree of specificity for diagnosis and treatment. The changes are part of the annual ICD-10 updates.

Before the transition, patients could report the diagnosis with any of the ICD-9 codes for low back pain. However, M54.5 is no longer accepted for reimbursement claims due to its lack of specificity. The ICD-10 code, 724.2, is still valid but should not be used on claims after October 1, 2015. In addition, the ICD-10 system does not allow the use of excluding 1 note with this code.

The most common type of low back pain is acute. This occurs when there is an injury or sudden strain on the back. The injury or strain compresses the spinal cord and causes pain. In some cases, a disc rupture or herniation is the cause. Alternatively, the condition is caused by degenerative conditions such as intervertebral disc degeneration and spondylosis.

The new edition of the ICD-10 makes diagnosing patients with low back pain easier. The ICD-10 system uses different codes for acute and chronic low back pain. The new edition also adds the radiculopathy extension code. Whether a patient suffers from acute or chronic low back pain, a diagnosis must be made based on its severity.

The new code will replace the M54.5 code, which is no longer valid after September. The change will take effect on 10/1/2021, so patients with M54.5 must update their diagnosis by October 1. They must also document the reason for the change. Most EMRs will prompt for updates on October 1, and some have already started prompting for the change.

Despite this, there are many instances of persistent low back pain. While chronic LBP is not considered a life-threatening condition, treatment options should be explored. Depending on the cause, the treatment should be appropriate. Chronic back pain is often treated with medications.


CMS’s ICD-10 manual undergoes revision every year and changes the ICD-10 codes. These revisions include deleting obsolete codes, adding new ones and changing the language. For example, the ICD-10 code M54.5 for low back pain is now obsolete. Existing patients with the diagnosis must be updated to an appropriate ICD-10 code. This change will also affect how rehab therapists code for patients with lower back pain.

R52 is a billable ICD-10-CM code that identifies a diagnosis for reimbursement purposes. It is used for patients who have chronic or intractable pain. Intractable pain is defined as pain that cannot be controlled or cured using standard medical care. Treatments, therefore, aim to reduce symptoms and minimize discomfort.

In some cases, an unspecified diagnosis is appropriate when the specific diagnosis is not known or not available. However, it is best to use more specific codes if the patient’s medical record supports them. R52 is not intended to be the principal diagnosis code, but it should be used when there is another, more definitive diagnosis.

While there are still some differences between the ICD-10 and ICD-11, they are both highly useful in documenting chronic pain. ICD-11 is better at chronic coding pain because it is easier to understand and is less ambiguous. It is also better at representing conditions with chronic onset than ICD-10.

When coding for pain, you must be aware of the coding standards. As a radiology coder, you must be prepared to assign the appropriate code for pain studies. Remember, the new system is organized by body system, and low back pain falls in the Musculoskeletal chapter. Pain in the testicles, on the other hand, is classified in the Genitourinary System chapter.

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