If your spine is curved sideways – for example, in an S or a C shape -you could have a condition called scoliosis. People of all ages can have scoliosis, notes the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. If your scoliosis is painful or interferes with movement, you may want to find out about scoliosis treatment.
Adult scoliosis may have originated during childhood, according to the Mayo Clinic. It can also be the result of spinal degeneration, or conditions such as osteoporosis (loss of bone mass).
Scoliosis can cause pain in your back and/or shooting down your legs, or numbness, according to the Scoliosis Research Society. Such discomfort might drive you to find scoliosis treatment.
What forms of scoliosis treatment are available?
According to the Mayo Clinic, for many people scoliosis can be managed without surgery. In some cases, scoliosis treatment might require surgery to relieve pain or restore balance in the spine. For example, you might need surgery if:
- You have persistent pain in the back or legs
- An overly tilted spine
- Arthritis in your spine
The Scoliosis Research Society adds that doctors might recommend scoliosis treatment with surgery in certain other situations, such as:
- Non-surgical treatments haven’t worked
- You have disabling pain and spinal imbalance
- You have a poor quality of life because you can’t move well or do many basic activities.
Most adults with scoliosis do not have disabling symptoms, according to the Scoliosis Research Society. If your doctor says you don’t need surgery, he or she might recommend scoliosis treatments such as:
- Periodic doctor visits to observe the condition
- X-rays so your doctor can measure the spine curvature
- Over-the counter pain relievers
- Exercises to strengthen the core muscles of the abdomen and back and improve flexibility
- Braces for short-term use in relieving pain
For more severe symptoms, scoliosis treatment may include magnetic radiology imaging (MRIs), epidural or nerve block injections, or prescription pain medication.
Two common surgical procedures for scoliosis treatment include surgical stabilization (using rods to stabilize the spine) and surgical fusion (using synthetic or natural bone to straighten the spine).
Will Medicare cover scoliosis treatment?
Medicare generally covers many forms of treatment for medical conditions, including scoliosis, when the treatment is medically necessary and provided by a doctor who accepts Medicare assignment. However, Medicare might not cover every form of scoliosis treatment – over-the-counter pain relievers you take at home, for example. In some cases, Medicare Part B may cover chiropractic services, but typically doesn’t cover other treatments or tests a chiropractor may perform or order as part of scoliosis treatment.
If you are a Medicare beneficiary with scoliosis, Medicare Part A (hospital insurance) may cover inpatient surgery for scoliosis treatment. A deductible and/or coinsurance amount usually applies.
Medicare Part B (medical insurance) may cover physician visits, physical therapy, and outpatient radiological services (including x-rays and magnetic resonance imaging or MRIs) for scoliosis treatment. Under its durable medical equipment benefit, Medicare Part B may cover a back brace as part of scoliosis treatment.
If you have a Medicare Supplement plan, it may help pay a portion of your out-of-pocket costs for covered services related to scoliosis treatment.
Medicare Part D (prescription drug benefits) may provide coverage for medications your doctor prescribes for scoliosis treatment. To get Medicare coverage for medications, you typically must be enrolled in a stand-alone Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plan or a Medicare Advantage Prescription Drug plan. Both types of plan are offered by Medicare-approved private companies. You must continue paying your Medicare Part B premium, along with any premium the plan may charge.
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