The Secondary Insurance Plan
I have a patient that has Medicare, but also has a secondary insurance plan that does cover acupuncture. How do I bill Medicare to get a denial so that I may bill this secondary payer?
Why Take X-Rays When You Already Have an MRI?
Let's clear up the issue regarding the efficacy of plain-film studies when an MRI study has already been performed. I review imaging studies primarily for chiropractors, and often their patients have been to other health care providers before finding their way to a DC.
The Certified Practitioner
Certified Chinese herb practitioners often identify themselves with the credentials "LAc" (Licensed acupuncturist).
#TechPain: Causes, Solutions
For the past several decades, the science of ergonomics has blossomed. The workplace is much safer and life is generally more pleasant thanks to the application of ergonomic principles.
Does Dairy Cause Dampness?
The topic of dairy consumption was brought up at a scalp acupuncture seminar I recently attended.
The Classical Texts & Integrative Medicine
The acupuncture profession has been undergoing many changes in the past years. There has been a shift towards a more integrative approach to medicine as more hospitals include integrative departments.
The Hidden Hip in LBP: Critical Screening Tests
In 1998, Harvey used this test on 117 elite athletes and found excellent interrater reliability to differentially assess iliopsoas, quadriceps or TFL/ITB tightness.
Trending: CBD / Hemp Oil
A recent survey of DCs regarding cannabidiol (CBD) / hemp oil provides food for thought as to the viability of CBD-based products as a component of chiropractic patient care. Here are some observations from the executive summary of the survey:
"Community Care" for Vets: It's Really a Big Deal!
As a preamble, while I regrettably never served in the military, I have the highest respect for those who did and those who currently serve.
NCCAOM: A Route to National Certification
The National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM) is offering a route to achieve national certification—without having to take any of the NCCAOM exams. This is specifically for California licensed acupuncturists that meet the eligibility requirements.
Autoimmunity, Gut Health and Diet: Connect the Dots
According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), autoimmune disease is recognized in approximately 24 million individuals in the U.S., consisting of more than 80 various disorders that contribute to the top 10 causes of death in female children and women of all age groups.
Vaccines & Autism (Part 1)
It turns out chronic inflammation is the driver of autism expression. Unfortunately, those who emotionally embrace the vaccine issue rarely, if ever, consider this relationship, which hinders a rational view of the vaccine issue.
UnitedHealthcare Can't Seem to Keep Chiropractic Down
AA decade ago, UnitedHealthcare announced changes to its chiropractic services policy that declared manipulative therapy for headache unproven.
Treating Pain With Nutrition
Back in 1910, when D.D. Palmer published The Chiropractor's Adjuster and introduced the world to what he called the "triad of health" – thoughts, trauma and toxins – he explained that the body can only be made optimally healthy if all three aspects of health are addressed.
Help Shape the New Neck Pain Best Practices Guideline
The Clinical Compass (originally the Council on Guidelines and Practice Parameters – CCGPP) has issued a call for interested chiropractic clinicians to help shape a new best practices guideline for chiropractic care of neck pain.
It's All About That Ki
As an industry are we shifting too much toward a Western mind set? We strive to understand how acupuncture works using imaging and extensive studies. We spend numerous hours of our training learning Western medicine and learning to speak their language. What happened to our core though?
Art of the Associateship: It's OK to Trust, But Verify
Trust is a valuable part of any business relationship. It serves as the foundation for all business operations and ultimately long-term success for owners, employees and customers. This is especially true in the world of health care.
Blockchain Health Records?
Keeping data secure has become a nightmare for the average consumer. Just consider general user account hacks on Yahoo (3 billion records compromised), eBay (145 million records compromised) and Facebook (87 million records compromised), to health record breaches involving Anthem Blue Cross (78 million records compromised) and TRICARE (almost 5 million records compromised).
A Resting of the Soul
In my pursuit of being a skilled health care provider, I focus on reading journals, attending classes, staying current on medicinal research, and choosing the correct billing codes. However, most of us would never have started down this career path if there wasn't something more.
CBD for Athletes: The Advantages of Cannibidiol
For athletes, pain is often part of their sport or activity. And to a certain extent, it is to be expected. However, after pushing themselves to the limit, soreness and fatigue set in, hampering their ability to perform and recover.
Reducing Hip, Knee & Shoulder Replacements (Part 2)
In the first article in this series, "Early Detection Reduces Hip, Knee, & Shoulder Replacements," I described time tested screening procedures and perspectives as indicators of when to encourage your patients to seek further medical evaluation.
End of Life Treatment
TCM looks death in the face. We do not camouflage it as if it were poisonous. "We must allow our patients to die but we cannot allow them to perish," was my first lesson the day I met my teacher as a teenager.
Why the Automatic Denials for Modifiers 25 and 59?
Your experience is one shared by many chiropractic providers who bill through those plans. It appears to be the national trend, but by far is more prominent in Texas and Illinois.
Valuable Adjunctive Therapies
Based on the latest CDC statistics, more than 795,000 Americans have strokes per year, 140,000 of which are lethal. Approximately 87 percent of all strokes are ischemic with an estimated health care and missed work cost of $34 billion annually.1
Confessions of a Former Drug Rep: Statins Are Endangering Your Overweight Patients
As I sit at my desk on the sixth anniversary of my successful liver transplant, I can't help but reflect on what caused that life-threatening ordeal. Looking back on my personal situation, I want to offer my insight into what is happening routinely to many patients.
Facebook Marketing 101
Many of the health care practitioners we work with have smaller practices. The provider tends to wear many hats – office manager, salesperson and healer.
News in Brief
WFC Among Founding Members of Global Rehab Alliance; HealthSource Selects GoChiroTV as Exclusive Digital Signage Partner; Western States' Online Degree Programs Among Best in the Nation; Logan University, University of Missouri-St. Louis Forge Partnership.
Doc, Are You a Social Media Holdout? Your Future Is Now
Whether you like it or not, to compete in any business, even chiropractic, you really should know and consider using social media. It is no longer a small, sleepy, local world we live in; it has become a far-reaching community.
A Bold Strategy to Take Chiropractic to New Heights
Building public awareness of an entire profession requires strategic planning – especially when it pertains to the exploration of ground-breaking marketing tactics that target new audiences with key messaging about the value of chiropractic care.
March, 2003, Vol. 03, Issue 03
Working With Clients Who Have Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Syndrome
By Ruth Werner, LMP, NCTMB
My last article on hyperthyroidism prompted some interesting responses. In that article, I mentioned I had an unusually difficult time finding any useful information on alternative treatment options for hyperthyroidism patients who wanted to avoid surgery or radioactive treatments to their thyroids (because of the increased risk of developing hypothyroidism).As usual, you came through in a big way. Here's an excerpt from one of the most hopeful letters I got:
This month's column is dedicated to a condition quite different from thyroid dysfunction. Over the course of my time with Massage Today, many readers have requested some information on a disorder that is not at all well understood, even by the professionals who try to treat it. Reflex sympathetic dystrophy syndrome is a condition involving an initial injury (usually) to an extremity (usually), which results in a disproportionate amount of pain, disability, and trophic (growth-related) changes to the damaged tissue. In some cases the symptoms of RSDS can move progressively through the body and affect areas distant to the original trauma.
In October 1864, a group of doctors compared their observations of Civil War soldiers recovering from gunshot wounds. Their comments were remarkably astute, and constitute a vivid picture of the experience of the condition eventually termed "causalgia" from the Greek kausis (burning) and algia (pain).
Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Syndrome: What Is It?
RSDS involves tissue damage, overactive sensory neurons, an excess of pain-sensitizing chemicals, and resulting inflammation followed by atrophy of the affected area. Because it is called so many things, and the criteria for making a diagnosis varies by medical specialty (orthopedists use different methods than general practitioners or internists, for instance), it is extremely difficult to pin down and get any solid statistics on its incidence or demographics.
Part of the confusion around this disorder lies its name. Chronic progressive pain syndromes have many labels, and RSDS just happens to be the one that is most popular at this moment in time. Here is a short list of other labels for this or very similar conditions:
The most conservative discussions of RSDS limit it to problems that begin in the hand or arm. This discussion won't limit the damage to the upper extremity, but please be aware that clients who live with this condition may have learned to call it by a different name, depending on where it has affected them, and what kinds of professionals they work with for treatment.
Etiology: What Happens?
When a person experiences any stimulus on the skin, a sensory neuron carries that information to the spinal cord, where a reflex response begins. At the same time, that impulse travels up the spinal cord to the brain, where the stimulus is interpreted at a conscious or subconscious level. If the stimulus is perceived as something safe and relaxing, it initiates a parasympathetic response; if it is interpreted as threatening or painful, a sympathetic response follows.
In RSDS, as far as it is understood at this point in time, a stimulus initiates a sympathetic, but this response long outlives its usefulness. The affected part of the body goes through a localized cycle of pain, which causes sympathetic responses, which reinforces the pain, which exacerbates the pain response, ad infinitum. The healing processes that would normally interrupt this sequence are unable to break through the vicious circle of pain - stress - pain. Eventually, the physiological changes that occur when a specific part of the body is stuck in a sympathetic loop cause their own kinds of damage - damage that can be irreversible. Tissue that experiences chronic inflammation will become essentially "walled off" from the rest of the body, and develop severely restricted blood and lymph supply. This leads to atrophy, bone thinning, and permanent loss of function.
Although it happens only rarely, this pain cycle also has the potential to spread proximally on the affected limb, to the eyes, internal organs, and even to the contralateral limb.
Signs and Symptoms
Four main symptoms have been observed in most RSDS patients: constant burning pain with little or no stimulus; local inflammation and sweating; spasm of both skeletal and smooth muscle in nearby blood vessels; and chronic insomnia (which can contribute to increased pain perception, as sleep deprivation can disturb neurotransmitter levels).
RSDS can be broken down into three or four loosely defined stages. Overlap of these stages often occurs, so they are useful mainly as a time reference for how long a person has been affected by this condition, and what treatment options have the best chance of interfering with its progression.
Diagnosis and Treatment
Because the diagnostic criteria for RSDS and related disorders vary according to medical specialty, it can be difficult to reach a conclusive diagnosis in the early stages of the disease. This is a problem, because the long-term outlook for someone with this problem is significantly better if he or she can begin treatment in Stage I, rather than Stage IV.
Visible signs and patients' descriptions of symptoms are usually straightforward with this condition. Diagnosis can be confirmed with thermography: a test that measures blood flow and localized heat in the body. X-rays or bone scans may be used to look for signs of osteoporosis at the site of injury.
Stage I RSDS may be treated with simple analgesics: NSAIDs or short-term steroids if necessary. Patients get good benefit from heat, especially moist heat applications like paraffin baths or hot packs. Ice is generally not useful for RSDS patients in any stage. Stage II and III RSDS patients need to be more aggressive with their pain management. Anti-seizure medications and morphine pumps are used with mixed results. TENS machines are successful for some people but not all. Calcium channel blockers may improve blood flow and relieve pain. Eventually, a patient may consider a sympathectomy: the surgical severing of parts of the sympathetic nervous system in order to stop the endless cycle of repeating pain signals. This intervention can be successful, but many patients report that the benefits are short-lived and the pain comes back post-surgically.
Can Massage Help?
This is where it gets interesting. Usually, when I research a particular topic, I look up that subject plus "massage," and get exactly nothing. Then I try that topic and "alternative treatments" and often have marginally more success. But for RSDS, this acutely painful, poorly understood sensory dysfunction, I found much more information about massage than I usually do. I found testimonials of RSDS patients who felt their massage therapists had prevented them from developing contractures in their affected muscles; I found suggestions to use massage to help desensitize over-stimulated areas; and massage is frequently recommended along with some other alternative therapies for chronic pain management. I also got some feedback from therapists who specialize in working with RSDS patients; an excerpt from one letter follows:
The upshot of it all is that although RSDS is a painful, inflammatory, potentially progressive condition (all of these qualities raise some cautions for massage), bodywork can serve a useful purpose in the treatment options (or just coping options) for the person who is affected by this disorder. Exactly what modalities to use, and how to avoid causing more pain than necessary while working to maintain muscular and joint health, will depend on the tolerance of the patient and the skills of the therapist.
This is an excellent example of a condition in which a massage therapist should work as part of a health care team, not as a solo practitioner. For more information about RSDS, I highly recommend the following Web sites:
Next time, I'll discuss another frustrating, chronic, progressive condition, but one that has a generally more hopeful prognosis: adhesive capsulitis, also known as frozen shoulder. Send me your success - and failure - stories, so we can all benefit!
Click here for previous articles by Ruth Werner, LMP, NCTMB.
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