PA Workers’ Compensation and Chiropractic Care

According to Wikipedia, Chiropractic is a form of alternative medicine[1] concerned with the diagnosis and treatment of mechanical disorders of the musculoskeletal system, especially the spine, under the belief that such a disorder affects general health via the nervous system.[2] The main chiropractic treatment technique involves manual therapy, especially manipulation of the spine, other joints, and soft tissues, but may also include exercises and health and lifestyle counseling.[3] The “specific focus of chiropractic practice” is chiropractic subluxation.[4]

A large number of workers’ compensation cases involve injuries to the neck and back, usually from lifting or carrying heavy objects, or from a trauma such as an automobile accident or fall. Even if a person never had chiropractic work done on them before a work injury, it may be a great way to get relief from pain, increase mobility and range of motion.  No prescription is needed for chiropractic care, but the treating doctor for one’s work injury can recommend the same.  Some jobs require repetitive motion, forcing the worker to use the same movement or posture, which can strain and pull tendons and muscles. It is not only back injuries that can be treated with chiropractic methods, but shoulders, elbows, wrists, and hands.

In conjunction with chiropractic care, acupuncture, foot orthotics, massage therapy, corrective exercises, and exercise equipment can be used in pain relief.  Chiropractic can also help with balance control in the event that a worker suffers some type of head trauma, or concussion and is having difficulty with cognitive or balance issues.  Issues with back, leg, and neck pain, migraine and tension headaches, post-surgery back pain, pinched nerves, muscle spasms, hip pain, auto injuries and whiplash can also be helped with chiropractor care.  Keep in mind, however, that with chiropractic care, the workers’ compensation carriers take a dim view of continued ongoing treatment, as they simply want to keep the costs down and not pay for it.

If you or a loved one has unfortunately suffered a work injury and are receiving chiropractic treatment, the carrier can file what is known as a Utilization Review to have an independent chiropractor review the treatment given and offer an opinion as to the reasonableness and necessity of the treatment.  If it is found that that treatment is not reasonable or necessary, then the carrier will stop payment for the same.  This determination can be appealed by the injured worker, but is typically can be a long legal process.  Also, if the workers’ compensation carrier believes that the treatment is not related to the work injury, they will deny payment for the same and then the injured worker can file a Penalty Petition in an attempt to have the treatment paid for.

physical therapist examining patient's kneeWhile there is certainly a time and place for chiropractic care following a work injury, just be mindful that the same could come with some issues regarding payment for the same.  Talk with your chiropractor regarding plans for types and lengths of treatment in order to have a better understanding of your particular treatment.  As always, ask questions about your treatment plan because it is your body and injury at stake.