If you suffer from chronic back pain, finding ways to ease the pain can be difficult. Meanwhile, the pain may be limiting your mobility and preventing you from participating in a number of activities.

You’re not alone. 65% of adults in the U.S. suffer from back pain. Many of these people suffering from chronic pain are able to find relief through chiropractic care. In this guide, we’ll explore the details of what chiropractic care includes and how Medicare covers chiropractic care and back pain. 

Key takeaways:

  • Original Medicare only covers spine manipulation (a kind of chiropractic service) to treat vertebral subluxation. It won’t cover any service outside of this, and Medicare won’t cover X-rays, massage therapy, or acupuncture that a chiropractor orders. 

  • Some Medicare Advantage plans cover chiropractic care but the cost of the visit will depend on your insurance carrier and policy details. Check your summary of benefits to see how your plan covers chiropractic services.

  • If you have chronic lower back pain, Medicare covers physical therapy and acupuncture visits.

What is chiropractic care?

Chiropractic care compliments traditional medicine by correcting spinal alignment and improving your range of motion and ability to participate in daily activities. Chiropractors aim to reduce your reliance on pain medications and, in the most extreme cases, avoid surgery. Also known as spinal or joint manipulation, chiropractic care has become a popular treatment for many Americans. 

The most common reasons people visit a chiropractor are:

  • Back pain

  • Muscle pain

  • Frequent headaches

  • Neck pain

People with specific conditions like scoliosis, degenerative disc disease, and spinal osteoarthritis also seek treatment from chiropractors to improve mobility and reduce pain. 

Skeletal alignment issues, nerve compression, or muscle spasms can cause all of these conditions. A Chiropractor can help reduce pain by performing a number of services, including hands-on spinal manipulation and soft tissue therapy.

Chiropractors are most known for performing spinal adjustments (sometimes referred to as back cracking), but they often do so much more to provide a holistic approach that helps reduce pain in the spine and joints. Below is a full summary of chiropractic services. 

Chiropractic adjustments

Chiropractors use hands-on techniques to manipulate the spine and other joints to restore proper alignment and function, which can alleviate pain and improve your range of motion.

Soft tissue therapy

Chiropractors may use techniques such as massage, myofascial release, and trigger point therapy to reduce muscle tension and improve circulation.

Recommended exercises for rehabilitation

Chiropractors may recommend specific exercises and stretches to help strengthen weak muscles and improve flexibility, as well as to aid in injury recovery.

Nutritional counseling

Chiropractors may offer advice on dietary changes and nutritional supplements to support overall health and wellness.

Suggestions for lifestyle modification

Chiropractors may offer guidance on lifestyle changes to reduce pain, improve posture, and prevent future injuries, such as ergonomics, stress management, and sleep hygiene.

Diagnostic imaging

Chiropractors may order diagnostic tests such as X-rays, MRIs, or CT scans to help diagnose and plan the treatment for certain conditions.

How does Original Medicare cover chiropractic services?

Original Medicare only covers chiropractic visits under specific circumstances. Medicare Part B will cover spinal manipulation when it’s deemed necessary by your healthcare provider to treat vertebral subluxation (minor displacement of vertebral bones). Acupuncture is also sometimes covered when it’s used to treat chronic low back pain.

Other services your chiropractor provides, like diagnostic x-rays and massage therapy, are not covered by Original Medicare.

That said, there are options for Medicare coverage if you have chronic lower back pain. Medicare covers acupuncture and physical therapy as treatment for the condition if your doctor recommends them.

How many chiropractic visits does medicare cover in a year

If you meet the conditions for manual spinal manipulation, Medicare covers as many visits with a chiropractor as you need to correct vertebral subluxation. For each chiropractic visit, you’ll pay 20% of the treatment after meeting the Part B deductible.

How do Medicare Advantage plans cover chiropractic services?

Also called Medicare Part C, some Medicare Advantage plans provide extra coverage for chiropractic care. If chiropractic treatment is important to you, you should review the details of each plan because coverage and costs vary. Some plans will only cover medically necessary adjustments, while others cover routine chiropractic care. Copays for medically necessary adjustments typically range from $5-20 per visit.

If you are currently enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan, you may already have some coverage for chiropractic care. If you’re currently receiving or wish to receive chiropractic care and are unsure if your plan provides coverage, we’re here to help!

How Chapter can help

Chapter provides full-service Medicare guidance through personalized advice and advocacy. We’ll start by helping you explore the benefits of your current Medicare coverage. If you’re not receiving the best value from your plan (or just want to see what other options are out there), we’ll walk you through the different opportunities to change your plan and guide you through the process of changing your plan during the next qualifying enrollment period. 

Speak with a licensed Medicare Advisor today at 855-900-2427 or schedule a time to talk.

Frequently asked questions

Medicare doesn’t cover chiropractic care for sciatica. It will only cover spinal manipulation for a specific type of condition—vertebral subluxation. However, Medicare does cover treatment for sciatica. Treatment often involves physical therapy, surgery, or prescription medication, all of which Medicare can help cover.

Your Medicare Supplement insurance won’t cover chiropractic care as a benefit itself, but it can help cover the cost of spinal manipulation if you meet the requirements for coverage. Also called Medigap, Medicare Supplement plans help pay for the 20% of costs that Original Medicare doesn't cover. This includes coverage for chiropractic care if you meet the conditions.

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