Chiropractic care encompasses a variety of treatments for issues related to the muscles, bones, joints and nerves of the body. These treatments can be recommended in order to improve mobility or reduce pain in affected areas, such as the back or neck. Learn more about determining your need for chiropractic care, which procedures you may require and how coverage under your Medicare benefits may apply.

Evaluating Need for Chiropractic Care

People who experience chronic or acute pain in their back, neck and joints may seek out chiropractic adjustments to help treat their condition. However, establishing the underlying cause of these issues is important when determining whether or not a chiropractic adjustment will relieve the pain or correct the problem.

A chiropractor will evaluate your overall health and ask about any known or possible medical conditions that may be contributing factors to your problem. This may include checking your blood pressure and performing X-rays in addition to a traditional physical exam. A thorough health history will also help a chiropractor determine the best course of treatment for your situation.

Certain pre-existing health conditions may prevent a chiropractor from treating you or an area of your body that may be affected by disease or damage. Bone tumors and fractures, severe infections, arthritis or osteoporosis are some examples of conditions that may make you ineligible for chiropractic care due to safety concerns. Always discuss your previously diagnosed health conditions with your chiropractor so that they can help you make the best decision about your needs.

Procedures Performed During Chiropractic Care

The U.S. National Library of Medicine describes spinal manipulation as the foundation of chiropractic care. This procedure involves manipulating the joints of the spin, then applying a light thrust to adjust, or align them properly.

Other procedures that can be part of chiropractic care include:

  • Applying heat or ice to affected areas.
  • Electrical stimulation of muscles in affected areas.
  • Massage and rehabilitative exercise.
  • Lifestyle consultation, such as diet and weight loss.

Depending on your needs, your chiropractor may perform procedures over the course of several sessions in a week or a month. The overall length of any given treatment plan depends on how chronic the condition may be and how many areas of the body are affected.

Medicare Coverage for Chiropractic Care

Chiropractic care is a complementary medicine, which means it is not generally considered a mainstream component of healthcare. If you are diagnosed with a subluxation, meaning the bones of your spine are out of place, and a spinal adjustment is deemed medically necessary, your outpatient Medicare benefits through Part B may provide coverage. The coverage is limited to subluxation treatment only. You will be responsible for any associated cost-sharing obligations such as copayments, coinsurance, and deductibles.

In order to establish medical necessity for chiropractic care, your primary care physician may be required to evaluate and refer you to a chiropractor or other qualifying specialist for this procedure.

Medicare Advantage (MA) plans will provide at least the same coverage as Original Medicare Part A and Part B, but many MA plans offer a range of additional benefits. Check with your plan directly to find out what chiropractic coverage is included.

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