Pain management includes a wide spectrum of treatments and techniques that are used to help control and reduce chronic pain due to illness or injury.  Coverage for certain forms of treatment may be covered under Medicare Part B while others may require a Medicare Part D prescription drug plan.

Common Types of Pain Management

Effectively treating chronic pain requires a careful evaluation of a patient’s needs and the underlying causes of their pain. In many cases, a combination of treatment types will be prescribed or suggested.

  • Over-the-counter medication. Common pain-relievers include acetaminophen and ibuprofen, which may also reduce inflammation.
  • Prescription medication. Opioids, muscle relaxants, antidepressants and anticonvulsants can all be used in the treatment of chronic pain and the impact it has on a person’s well-being.
  • Physical therapy and exercise. Depending on the cause of chronic pain, regular physical therapy and exercise can help relieve symptoms by improving strength and mobility.
  • Occupational therapy. Since daily activities can become difficult to perform when dealing with chronic pain, occupational therapy focuses on helping patients identify issues and develop new methods for accomplishing their goals.
  • Interventional procedures. Steroid injections or implanted medical devices can target specific areas of the body in an attempt to influence how the nervous system responds to pain signals.
  • Behavioral therapy. This type of treatment may be advised when cognitive and lifestyle factors play an important role in a patient’s chronic pain experience or their willingness to engage in a treatment plan.
  • Complementary therapies. This may include hypnosis, acupuncture, massage therapy or mindfulness meditation, which may enhance a patient’s sense of well-being and emotional balance.

Developing a plan for pain management may involve input from several health care professionals, especially when prescription medication or medical procedures are required.

Medicare Coverage for Pain Management

Recipients who receive qualifying pain management treatment through outpatient services may have coverage under Medicare Part B. This may include certain types of occupational or physical therapy. Depression or substance abuse screening and individual or group therapy sessions can also fall under Part B coverage terms. These services may require out-of-pocket payments due to the deductible, copayment or coinsurance cost-sharing rules.

Medicare Part D prescription drug plans may cover many of the medications necessary for pain management, but these plans are offered through private insurers and each provider determines which medications are included in their coverage.

A prescription drug plan’s formulary will list not only the medications that qualify for coverage, but it will also assign a tier to the medication associated with its cost. This can help you determine your copay obligation.

Medicare Advantage plans that combine Part A and Part B coverage with prescription drug coverage may offer additional benefits for pain management treatment, such as coverage for acupuncture or massage therapy services. Some Medicare Advantage plans may also offer a monthly allowance for over-the-counter medications and supplies.

Related articles:

What Does Medicare Part B Cover?(Opens in a new browser tab)

Does Medicare Advantage Cover Prescription Drugs? (Opens in a new browser tab)