According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), acupuncture can treat neck and lower back pain symptoms, as well as discomfort due to osteoarthritis and knee pain.
In January 2020, Medicare approved up to 20 acupuncture treatments annually for those with chronic lower back pain. Some conditions apply. For example, under Original Medicare (Part B) beneficiaries may only receive acupuncture treatment in MD, DO or ARNP’s office. Medicare Advantage (Part C) beneficiaries have more flexibility and may receive acupuncture in a MD, DO, ARNP or Licensed Acupuncturist’s office.
There are over 25 Medicare Advantage Plans, several Statewide Medicaid Managed Care plans and other Special Needs Plans offered in Citrus County, including plans from AARP, Humana, Aetna, BlueCross, Elite, Freedom, Premier and WellCare.
Of these, several plans already offer the acupuncture benefit for Chronic Low Back pain and more plans have included acupuncture benefits in 2021.
Medicare has approved acupuncture coverage as part of a growing effort to help people access nonopioid pain management. Acupuncture is an evidence-based office procedure, well-supported by research and proven to relieve pain and improve individuals function and mobility.
Receiving Acupuncture treatments from a trained and licensed healthcare professional is a safe and effective way to treat low back pain. The treatment triggers the body’s release of pain-relieving chemicals that occur naturally in the body. Imaging studies that evaluate brain activity have shown that when people they receive acupuncture, the treatment helps reduce activity around overactive pain receptors.
The effects of acupuncture on chronic pain can be long lasting, according to an article published in the journal Pain. In a review of 29 clinical trials involving people with headache or pain in the lower back, neck, shoulder, or knee, an estimated 90% of the 17,922 participants reported that pain relief lasted at least 12 months after their acupuncture treatments.
The most common adverse effects are sensitivity and minor bleeding at the treatment site.
Although practitioners may use acupuncture to treat other conditions, Medicare will only cover its use in the treatment of lower back pain.
Contact David Bibbey, L.Ac. (licensed acupuncturist) at Alternative Primary Care, Crystal River, phone 352-464-1645.