Medicare covers acupuncture for low back pain

In a recognition of acupuncture’s efficacy vs. other treatments for low back pain, Medicare Part B now covers up to 12 acupuncture visits in 90 days for chronic low back pain. Medicare covers an additional 8 sessions if you show improvement. You can get a maximum of 20 acupuncture treatments in a 12-month period.

Chronic low back pain is defined by Medicare as:

  • Lasting 12 weeks or longer
  • Not having an identifiable cause (for example, not an identifiable disease like cancer that has spread, or an infectious or inflammatory¬†disease)
  • Pain that isn’t associated with surgery or pregnancy

You must get acupuncture from a licensed acupuncturist or doctor, or by another health care provider (like a nurse practitioner or physician assistant) who has both of these:

  • A masters or doctoral level degree in acupuncture or Oriental Medicine from a school accredited by the Accreditation Commission on Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine
  • A current, full, active, and unrestricted license to practice acupuncture in the state where you’re getting care
  • Note that Medicare does not cover dry needling performed by Physical Therapists, Doctors of Chiropractic, Athletic Trainers, or other professions unless they meet the above criteria.

Please contact us for more information if you have Medicare Part B coverage and suffer from chronic low back pain.