Pain doesn’t discriminate. It doesn’t care about your age, religion, sex or race. And the cause of pain can vary from a sporting injury to a car accident to degeneration over time. Regardless of the cause, there are various treatment options determined by the location of your pain and severity of the condition.
Arthritis Pain and Symptoms
Most people have heard of the term, “Arthritis”. There are more than 100 different types of Arthritis or Arthritis related conditions. Regardless of the type, Arthritis affects the spine or major joints in the body. The most common signs of Arthritis are pain, edema, stiffness and decreased range of motion. Arthritis is usually categorized as mild, moderate, or severe and will progress over time.
One of the many treatments available is stem cell injections. Stem cells can be injected directly into the arthritic joint to repair damage. They’re able to divide and duplicate themselves, or develop into different cells if needed. Many Medicare beneficiaries experience chronic pain due to arthritis and are in need of this type of treatment. It’s important to know what Medicare coverage for stem cell treatments are included in your benefits.
What are Stem Cells
Stem cells are formed at birth. The uniqueness of Stem Cells are that they can change into other types of cells found throughout the body. These cells can then regenerate and help the other cells that are vital to producing organs, muscles, tendons, ligaments, bones, joints and skin.
Stem Cells and Arthritis
Stem cell injections are a great alternative to surgical intervention. Due to today’s technology, we are able to extract stem cells from the body and then reuse them for pain relief. This benefits the injured joint(s) and surrounding tissues as it enhances the natural repair of the affected area. Minimally invasive procedures are always the route to go when facing pain whether from an injury or from degeneration.
The most common stem cells used for arthritis is mesenchymal stem cells. These types of cells are extracted from the patients fatty tissue, bone marrow or blood. Bone marrow is mostly extracted from the pelvic bone after given a local anesthetic. The process of collecting cells is called harvesting.
Medicare Coverage for Stem Cell Treatment
Stem cell treatment is recognized not only across the world, but also in the United States. Unfortunately, the FDA has not yet approved the treatments for interventional pain management. Being that the pain aspect of stem cell injections are something that’s fairly new, without FDA approval insurance won’t cover these procedures. Stem Cell treatments will be considered all out of pocket and can be quite costly.
That’s not to say that stem cell injections won’t eventually be recognized by the FDA as they do recognize stem cell treatment for some other medical conditions. Once approved it will then ignite insurance coverage. And Medicare is always updating what’s covered and not covered. Your best bet is to contact Medicare directly to see what treatment options will be covered.
Remember, Medicare only pays for 80% of your medical treatment. This leaves you with the remaining 20% to pay for along with co-pays, deductibles and coinsurance. Most interventional l treatments can be costly. If Medicare does cover it, you’ll want help paying the remaining out of pocket costs. A Medicare Supplement plan will do just that. These plans are very affordable, you can compare rates in your area online here.
Other Arthritis Treatment Options
There are multiple treatment options for those suffering from Arthritis pain including:
- NSAIDS (Non-steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs) which help to decrease inflammation at the arthritic site.
- Over the counter pain analgesics are pain relievers that can be purchased and without a RX.
- Vitamin supplements such as Glucosamine and Chondroitin which are natural supplements that help reduce stiffness and prevent joint damage from worsening.
- Topical medications including ointments, gels, and creams. These topical solutions help reduce inflammation and pain
Prescription pain relievers are usually considered opioid pain relievers. These medications are used to control discomfort that most practitioners agree are not a long-term care solution.
- Physical therapy is a stretching and strengthening program utilized to enhance physical function.
- Hot and cold compresses when applied to the affected area they help to decrease inflammation and in turn pain.
- Durable Medical Equipment: a brace or splint helps to provide stability and takes pressure off the affected area.
- Corticosteroid Medications/Injections both oral and injectable medications can be given to control inflammation and pain.
Surgical Intervention usually used as a last resort when conservative treatment has been tried and failed.