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Will Workers Compensation Cover Alternative Medicine?

If you have been injured on the job, you may be wondering if alternative medicine will be covered by workers comp.

Picture this: you suffered a severe work injury recently. You are in pain and the medication the doctors prescribed doesn’t seem to help. As you were looking for relief, you came across acupuncture. People on the internet swear by it and you are ready to give it a try. You wonder, will worker’s compensation benefits pay for it or will you have to pay out of your pocket?

acupuncture needles

Types of Alternative Medicine

Over 42,000 people died from an opioid overdose in 2016, more than in the previous years. The epidemic is growing at such a fast pace that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends over the counter pain medication before getting any prescribed pills. As the opioid crisis is getting out of proportions, people are starting to look for alternative ways to treat their pain, such as yoga, acupuncture, dietary supplements, and so on.

Here is a short overlook at the main types of alternative medicine:

  • Acupuncture: Acupuncture is an ancient form of Chinese medicine that involves inserting needles into the outer layer of the skin. Some people report getting pain relief and feeling more relaxed after the sessions.
  • Massage: We’re not talking here about your regular spa treatment, although that can help you unwind and relax too. Massage has been proven to help with pain management and injury and is often used by physical therapy professionals.
  • Homeopathy: There’s a lot of debate regarding homeopathy. While some people claim that it succeeded where Western medicine failed, the medical community is skeptical, to say the least.

Will Workers Compensation Cover Alternative Medicine?

The answer is, generally, no. Unlike allopathic medicine, which has been tested, reviewed, and researched for years on end, there is typically very little data about the success of most alternative forms of treatment. Doctors want what is best for their patients and they can’t recommend treatment if they aren’t certain about its short and long term effects and benefits. It’s difficult to stray from the norm when there are countless studies that prove the effectiveness of surgery or physical therapy and only a few, dubious studies about homeopath medicine.

So, if you want your medical costs covered, then you must opt for regular treatments. Of course, if you would like to give alternative medicine a try, you are free to do so. But, you will have to pay the cost out of your pocket.

However, there is one exception to this rule. Although massage may be considered by some to be an “alternative medicine”, there is sufficient, reliable data that proves its effectiveness. So, your benefits may cover massage (performed by a trained physical therapist, of course) if your doctor recommends it as a viable solution to your health problem or injury.

Workers compensation law can be a bit confusing. If you have been injured on the job, speak with an experienced Missouri workers compensation attorney to ensure your legal right to compensation is protected right from the start of your claim. Give us a call 24/7 at (816) 399-3706 for a FREE case evaluation.

Updated: August 21, 2019

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