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    Chronic Pain Relief Checklist: 9 Places To Look For Affordable, Low-Risk Treatments


    Many Americans suffer from pain. According to a February 2022 Pain article, 50.2 million Americans reported feeling pain most days. You know what it’s like to live with constant pain. Long-term discomfort can cause both physical and psychological problems.

    People with chronic pain often turn to prescription drugs for relief. However, many of these medications are ineffective and can lead to addiction. You might be looking for alternative treatments because there are not enough effective medical treatments. Integrative medicine is the answer.

    “Integrative” is really just a broad term that covers all evidence, so it can refer to any type of medicine, Western or Eastern, or anything in between,” says Zachary Mulvihill MD, integrative medicine specialist at Weil Cornell Medicine, New York City.

    There are many evidence-based options available, including mindfulness-based stress relief (MBSR), cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), and other non-drug treatments for chronic pain. However, these therapies can be expensive or difficult to find if insurance does not cover them. If you are interested in an integrative modality, don’t lose heart.

    Dr. Mulvihill says, “It’s essential for people to receive these services because this stuff actually works.” He stresses the importance of quality care. “If your health is not good, you can’t get anything. It’s valuable.”

    There is no single solution to pain relief. Here are nine places you can look for affordable integrative medicine and complementary therapies.

    1. Your Own Doctor’s Office

    Mulvihill suggests that your first stop on your integrative journey should always be your primary care physician’s office.

    He says, “Don’t skip the basic steps.” “I’ve seen it many times, and I have missed a serious condition that could have and should be treated differently.

    Your doctor at home may be able to refer you to complementary therapies.

    2. Online databases

    Online reviews can help you find holistic practitioners.

    Zocdoc can help you find doctors in your area that accept your insurance. These related articles also include other databases:

    • What are Alternative, Complementary and Integrative Health Approaches to Healing?
    • For chronic pain, consult an Integrative Medicine doctor

    3. Specialistized Clinics and Centres

    Once you have received clearance from your primary doctor, you can begin the search for integrative medicine centers.

    Susan P. Blackford MD, an intern medicine doctor at Duke Integrative Medicine Center, Durham, North Carolina, says that “there isn’t an easily accessible and reliable source for what’s available.” “Most people either ask their friends and family for recommendations or search the internet.”

    Mulvihill adds, “Finding someone is difficult, especially if they are insured.” Mulvihill says that insurance is not something that integrative or alternative providers are willing to take on.

    Mulvihill said he is fortunate to work in a center that offers acupuncture and massage, nutrition and mindfulness, therapy and yoga, as well as accepting insurance.

    He says, “But even then we don’t accept all insurances and not all insurances cover all our services.”

    Dr. Blackford says that there is often confusion about what is covered and what is not. This varies between insurance plans and even within the same company.

    4. Reputable Medical Organizations Offer Online Databases

    Mulvihill recommends searching the University of Arizona database for integrative doctors to search for someone who graduated from The Andrew Weil Centre for Integrative Medicine. This program is considered the best in integrative training. The Academy of Integrative Health and Medicine and The Academic Consortium for Integrative Medicine & Health are two other options.

    The Institute for Functional Medicine also offers a search engine that allows you to find providers who are certified in functional medicine. This is similar to integrative medicine but with a greater focus on biological testing.

    5. Your Health Insurance Plan

    It will be easier to save money on integrative services if you are familiar with your insurance plan.

    Mulvihill says, “If you have insurance coverage milk it.”

    To begin, create an online account to see the details of your plan. You might call if you have any questions about the treatment that you are interested in. For example, you might ask:

    • What coverage do I have for this treatment?
    • How many visits will you be able to cover?
    • Do all conditions are covered? Or only certain conditions?
    • Are you looking for a referral?
    • What are the copays and deductibles?

    The company policy and other factors can affect the coverage for integrative medicine.

    According to the NIH Americans spend $14.7 billion each year out-of-pocket to visit integrative and complementary practitioners.

    Blackford says that insurance covers many of these services on the west coast. These modalities have been more difficult to adopt on the east coast. This is beginning to change, however.

    Sometimes, your insurance company may reimburse partial costs for certain treatments if your provider does not take your plan. However, this will depend on the coverage you have and the services provided.

    “In many centers such as ours, the cost of treatment is clearly displayed and easily accessed so there is no confusion. Blackford says that patients are given receipts to enable them to claim reimbursement.

    6. A Health Savings account

    Mulvihill suggests that you may want to set up your health insurance account in a flexible spending or health savings account.

    He explains that you can spend your health dollars on services that aren’t covered by insurance, such as acupuncture, massage and supplements. Once you reach your deductible, most of the care you need will be covered.

    7. Sympathetic Providers

    Mulvihill claims that his center offers helpful strategies to patients who have insurance difficulties.

    There are solutions to many billing problems. He explains that he supervises patients who wish to see our nutritionists or acupuncturists but don’t have any insurance coverage. This is known as a “linked visit.” The patient’s insurance covers the bills.

    8. Discounts from Your Provider’s Centre

    Ask for a discount if you are required to pay out-of-pocket for services. A sliding scale may also be offered by some centers based on your income. They may also allow you to set up payment plans.

    9. Support groups

    It can be very healing to connect with others and share your experiences. Online and in-person support groups allow chronic pain sufferers to share their experiences and find ways to cope with everyday challenges. These groups may also be a good place to find recommendations for providers, centers, or services that are relevant to your type of pain.

    Support groups may be found via social media or non-profit organizations.

    Many reliable resources are available to help you find support groups.

    • American Chronic Pain Association
    • U.S. Pain Foundation
    • Practical Pain Management
    • The Pain Connection
    • International Pain Foundation
    • CreakyJoints
    • The Foundation for Peripheral Neuropathy
    • National Fibromyalgia Association
    • Arthritis Foundation

    The Most Proven Pain Relievers at the Lowest Price for Less Money

    These are some tips to help you navigate the most evidence-based modalities for relieving chronic pain.

    Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction: How to Find Deals & Discounts

    MBSR is not only beneficial for general well-being, but can also help with chronic pain. The stress reduction program teaches patients mindfulness techniques, hatha yoga, group support, and other methods to improve their well-being.

    Although MBSR costs can vary depending on the provider, they are not usually covered by insurance.

    Blackford says that mindfulness meditation is an effective, inexpensive and simple way to manage chronic pain. There are many inexpensive and free apps that can help you get started.

    An MBSR program can be found at your local hospital or at the integrative health department at universities.

    These are some of the ways you can find more affordable MBSR treatment:

    • Ask about scholarships (some centres offer them).
    • To learn more about MBSR skills, listen to a podcast or study a book.
    • You might try a mindfulness app like Calm or Headspace.
    • You can find meditation centers. Meditation centers offer introductions to mindfulness in the “Zen” and “insight” meditation linesages.

    Physical Therapy: How to Get Deals and Discounts

    Physical therapy uses a variety of techniques to reduce pain and improve mobility.

    Many insurance policies, including Medicare and Workers’ Compensation, will pay for physical therapy services that are medically necessary. Physical therapy is part of mainstream medicine. This coverage is not always available and you may need to pay a deductible depending on which plan you have.

    Virtual physical therapy can be an economical option. A therapist will show you how to do the exercises through video conferencing. For a lower price, you can negotiate fees with your therapy centre.

    Physical therapists are often found in hospitals, pain clinics, and outpatient centers. The American Physical Therapy Association has a directory that will help you find physical therapists in your local area.

    Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Advice to Find Deals and Discounts

    CBT is a technique that enables you to recognize the effects of your thoughts and emotions on your behavior. This allows you to make changes.

    Mulvihill states, “I believe that everyone should see an therapist, especially if they are dealing with chronic pain.”

    While most insurance companies will cover the cost for mental health therapy, not all will.

    These are some options if you have to pay out of your own pocket.

    • You can try group CBT, or a virtual therapy session
    • Find a federally-funded health center offering discounted rates
    • Book a session at a university or college that is less expensive with a graduate student

    To help you locate therapists in your local area, the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies and the Academy of Cognitive and Behavioral Therapies have directories.

    Headway is another popular resource for finding mental health professionals.

    Chiropractic Therapy: How to Get Deals and Discounts

    Chronic pain sufferers often seek chiropractic therapy for relief. The treatment involves manipulating or adjusting the spine and other parts of your body to improve alignment and function.

    Although most insurance policies cover chiropractic care, there are some exceptions. Out-of-pocket expenses can vary depending on which provider you choose.

    You may be eligible to use your HSA/FSA money for chiropractic services if your doctor doesn’t accept your insurance.

    It is also a good idea to shop around as not all chiropractors are equal.

    The American Chiropractic Association has a tool that will help you locate a chiropractor close to you.

    Biofeedback: Where can I find deals and discounts

    Biofeedback uses electric sensors to measure various functions of the body. This allows you to identify your pain response and create strategies to address it.

    A biofeedback practitioner can be found at a doctor’s office, local medical facility, or integrative healthcare center. The interactive biofeedback certification international alliance (BCIA) feature allows you to search for professionals in your local area.

    While some insurance policies cover biofeedback, others do not.

    Here are some options if you don’t want to pay too much for a specialist in biofeedback.

    • Buy a consumer wearable device such as the HeartMath
    • Genius Insight Biofeedback app is an example of such an app.

    It is important to understand that professional-guided biofeedback therapy may not be as precise or as effective as consumer products.

    Acupuncture: How to Get Discounts and Deals

    Research shows that acupuncture, an ancient Chinese medicine practice (TCM), can be used to treat chronic pain.

    Although many insurance companies do not cover acupuncture treatment, in January 2020 the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), announced that it would cover chronic low back pain for Medicare patients.

    You should shop around to find a fair price if you are considering acupuncture. Prices vary depending on which practice you choose. You can also contact your local training schools to find out if they offer discounts.

    Mulvihill claims that his center offers group acupuncture at lower prices. Mulvihill explains that a room might be available for 10 people at once.

    The American Association of Naturopathic Physicians’ directory or the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM directory) can help you find an acupuncturist.

    Where to find deals and discounts on Qigong and Tai Chi

    Two ancient meditation and movement practices, Qigong (and tai Chi) can provide pain relief. The cost of the treatment is covered by some insurance plans, such as Medicare. However, not all insurance plans will cover it.

    You can find out if your local senior center, rec centre, or health club offers discounted or free classes.

    You can also find a lot of books, videos, and online resources to help you learn qigong and tai-chi at your home. You might also consider virtual classes as a cheaper alternative.

    Find a Tai Chi for Health Institute instructor who is registered in tai chi.

    Blackford says that it is important to find a doctor who has worked with joint disease and osteoporosis.

    How to find discounts and deals on Pain Reprocessing Therapy (PRT).

    Pain reprocessing therapy is a way to help manage chronic pain.

    Some costs may be covered by health insurance, but it is best to check with your plan.

    You might be able negotiate a fee directly from your therapy center to save money. You might also want to get quotes from several centers as different centers may charge more. Curable, an app that allows you to access PRT exercises at your home, also offers this option.

    The Pain Reprocessing Therapy Center has a directory of clinicians to help you find them.

    Practical Advice to Access Effective, Low-Risk Treatments

    Experts agree that a multidisciplinary approach that integrates multiple integrative techniques is the best strategy to manage chronic pain.

    Although it may seem difficult to find and pay for integrative medicine modalities, it can be worth the effort.

    Blackford says, “It may also be useful to reflect on where you want to invest your resources, whether it is mediations that provide temporary relief or a modality which can make a significant change.” The ability to choose from other modalities can enhance the quality of our care.



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