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A Beginner's Guide to Diagnosis Codes(ICD )| Physiotattva

What are Diagnosis Codes (ICD)?

The International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD) is a comprehensive framework that provides critical information on global causes, symptoms, and progression of human diseases and death. The diagnosis codes within the ICD are a set of markers used by healthcare professionals to identify causes, signs, consequences, and abnormal findings of a particular diagnosis. 

How Diagnosis Codes Are Used in Healthcare

The specific codes are used to recognize the various aspects of a patient’s diagnosis, after which they are passed on to insurance companies to establish the medical grounds for the services that need to be paid for. There are over 70,000 codes with specific criteria accepted by both the healthcare and insurance-providing fields. In addition to billing, these codes are also used for treatment and statistic collection purposes. 

Common Terminology Used in Diagnosis Coding

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the terminology used in coding is a unique language that expands to describe the illness, treatment, medical procedure, and medications. The ICD consists of a form of medical code that includes the following terminologies-

  • E-codes: Codes used to describe injuries from external factors. 
  • V-codes: Codes used to describe medical services about preventative care.
  • NOS: Not otherwise specified, also known as NOS is a set of codes for conditions that do not have a specific diagnosis. 
  • NEC: Not elsewhere classifiable (NEC) is a set of codes used to describe highly specific diagnoses. 

Types of Pain Diagnosis Codes

There are several pain diagnosis codes. Regardless of the different types, these codes follow a common format. They are depicted by a letter and two digits to the left of the decimal point. Each letter signifies a group of diseases and the numbers determine the specifications of the condition. With time, the manuals have developed and evolved into ICD-10 and ICD-11. 


The ICD-10 was published in 1993 with several modifications made to the previous versions. Although the content is fairly similar, the ICD-10 is organized into a 3-set volume. It is alphabetically categorized and some of the chapters have been rearranged. This is done to include modifications made to the titles and the categorization of illnesses. As compared to its previous versions, this manual has twice as many categories with minor changes made to the coding rules concerning morality. 


The latest version of the ICD was published in 2022. The ICD-11 is a highly extensive version that captures medical and technological advancements. It addresses multiple aspects of quality and safety in great detail. With a simplified and reintegrated code structure, this manual is easy to follow. Further, it is also inclusive of different cultures as it offers translations in 43 different languages. Based on the dimensional approach used, it can also capture changes over time and reduce the chances of being diagnosed with comorbidities. As compared to the ICD-10, the newer version consists of additional diagnoses including Complex PTSD, Compulsive sexual behavior disorder, Gaming disorder, prolonged grief disorder, etc. 

Diagnosis Codes for Acute Pain

Acute pain is one of the most common complaints expressed by most people. Hence there are several codes associated with multiple conditions that signify some form of acute pain. 

What Is Acute Pain

Acute pain has a sudden onset and is usually caused by specific stimuli. Although the pain is sharp, it does not last longer than six months. Surgery, fractures, sprains, burns, dental work, and labor are common causes of acute pain. 

Common Acute Pain Diagnosis Codes

In the ICD, the diagnosis codes for acute pain do not include generalized pain, pain caused by underlying psychological conditions, or conditions with no specific diagnosis. Keeping this in mind, here are some of the common codes for this condition- 

  • G89.11-G.89.18 G89.1: Acute pain, not elsewhere classified
  • G89.3: Neoplasm-related acute pain 
  • G89.11: Acute neck pain caused by trauma 
  • G89.12: Acute post-thoracotomy pain 
  • G89.18: Another acute post-operative pain 

Diagnosis Codes for Chronic Pain

Several underlying conditions can lead to chronic pain. 

What Is Chronic Pain

This condition is characterized by persistent pain that lasts for more than six months. It can continue even after the injury or condition has completely healed. Since the pain signals in the nervous system remain active for extended periods, it can lead to tense muscles, limited range of motion, fatigue, changes in appetite, depression, anxiety, and more. Headaches, arthritis, neck pain, fibromyalgia, and cancer are common conditions that exhibit chronic pain. 

Common Chronic Pain Diagnosis Codes

According to the ICD, the common codes for chronic pain include-

  • G89.0: Central pain syndrome 
  • G89.21-G89.29 G89.2: Chronic pain, not elsewhere classified
  • G89.3: Neoplasm-related chronic pain 
  • G89.4: Chronic pain syndrome 
  • G89.22: Chronic post-thoracotomy pain 

Diagnosis Codes for Musculoskeletal Pain

Research suggests that several factors lead to musculoskeletal pain. Based on the severity of the condition, this pain may be acute or chronic. This further results in the combination of multiple codes for the same. 

What Is Musculoskeletal Pain

Musculoskeletal pain refers to pain caused by injured joints, bones, muscles, tendons, ligaments, and nerves. This can be caused by fractures, dislocations, trauma, poor posture, sprains, and overuse injuries. 

Common Musculoskeletal Pain Diagnosis Codes

Based on the origin of pain, there are different types including bone, knee, joint, muscle, tendon, and ligament pain.

Knee Pain Diagnosis Codes

Here are a few common codes for knee pain-

  • M76.3: Iliotibial Band Syndrome
  • M22: Disorder of Patella 
  • M76.5: Patellar tendinitis 

Shoulder Pain Diagnosis Codes

Here are a few common codes for shoulder pain-

  • M25.51: Shoulder pain
  • M25.511: Right shoulder pain 
  • M25.512: Left shoulder pain 
  • M25.519: Unspecified shoulder pain 

Neck Pain Diagnosis Codes

Here are some common diagnosis codes for neck pain-

  • M54.2: Cervicalgia 
  • M50.0: Cervical disc disorder with myelopathy 
  • M48.02: Spinal stenosis in the cervical region 
  • S16: Injury of muscle, tendon, or fascia of the neck

Foot Pain Diagnosis Codes

Here are some common diagnosis codes for foot pain-

  • M79.6: Pain in the foot and toes 
  • M79.671: Pain in the right foot 
  • M79.672: Pain in the left foot 
  • M79.63: Unspecified foot pain 

Back Pain Diagnosis Codes

Here are some common diagnosis codes for back pain-

  • M54.5: Lower back pain 
  • S39.012: Low back strain 
  • M51.2: Back pain due to disc displacement 
  • M54.4: Lower back pain with sciatica 

Diagnosis Codes for Neuropathic Pain

Neuropathic pain is caused by several factors including diabetes, alcoholism, HIV infection, central nervous system disorders, and more. Based on the conditions, there are multiple codes for the same. 

What Is Neuropathic Pain

Neuropathic pain is a condition triggered by chronic, progressive nerve damage, or injuries and infections. Since its symptoms are chronic, the condition gets worse over time. 

Common Neuropathic Pain Diagnosis Codes

Here are some common diagnosis codes for neuropathic pain-

  • M79.2: Neuralgia 
  • G63.2: Diabetic polyneuropathy 

Diagnosis Codes for Headaches and Migraines

Headaches are another common physiological concern expressed by most people. Since this condition is not limited to a particular age group and can be symptomatic of various underlying diseases, several codes exist for the same. 

What Are Headaches and Migraines

A headache is a constant, dull, throbbing pain in the head or face. Migraine-specific headaches are more severe and are usually experienced on one side of the head. 

Common Headache and Migraine Diagnosis Codes

Here are some common diagnosis codes for headaches and migraine-

  • G43: Migraine 
  • G43.C: Periodic headaches 
  • G44.0: Lower half migraines 

Diagnosis Codes for Post-Surgical Pain

Based on the procedure or surgery performed, there are various post-surgical pain diagnosis codes. 

What Is Post-Surgical Pain

Pain lasting for more than 3 to 6 months post-surgery is referred to as post-surgical pain. 

Common Post-Surgical Pain Diagnosis Codes

Here are some common diagnosis codes for post-surgical pain-

  • G89: Acute post-surgery pain 
  • G89.2: Chronic post-surgery pain 

The Importance of Accurate Diagnosis Coding for Effective Physiotherapy Treatment

The diagnosis codes in the ICD are essential to recognize and understand various physiological conditions. Our experts follow this manual to deliver comprehensive and specialized treatment techniques that meet your needs. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Why are ICD codes important?

ICD codes are important to recognize diseases that affect the population globally. In addition to this, it is also important for insurance or billing purposes. 

How do I find the appropriate ICD code for a medical condition?

The letters and numerals of the code signify groups of diseases and their specific symptoms. 

Can I use multiple ICD codes for one patient visit?

Experts can use multiple codes to create a comprehensive diagnosis of the condition. However, it is important to remember that limits are created while using these codes for billing purposes. 

Do I need to update my knowledge of ICD codes regularly?

The diagnosis codes of ICD are updated every year. Hence, it is mandatory to revisit the manual and its new updates.

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