Kaiser Insurance Acupuncture Coverage
Acupuncture

Kaiser Insurance: What Conditions are Covered for Acupuncture Treatment?

Kaiser Insurance Acupuncture CoveragePhoto: Tanja Heffner

Kaiser Insurance on Acupuncture

You may have seen that Kaiser has taken over Group Health here in Washington. In their June 5, 2017 “Kaiser Permanente Washington Pre-Authorization Requirements” document, they¬†outline the conditions for which they have determined acupuncture treatment medically necessary. Any non-Medicare patient with Kaiser insurance coverage seeking over eight visits will have to meet the following criteria:

Conditions Covered

  • Arthritis, chronic
  • Dysmenorrhea (i.e. menstrual cramps)
  • Fibromyalgia (must incl. established, documented diagnosis of fibromyalgia)
  • Headaches, chronic
  • Myofascial pain, chronic, e.g.
    • cervicalgia
    • headaches, muscular-tension type
    • lumbago
    • neck and back pain, chronic
    • plantar fasciitis
    • thoracic outlet syndrome (TOS)
  • Nausea/vomiting due to pregnancy or chemotherapy
  • Neuropathic pain, chronic
  • “Other medical¬†medical conditions that have responded to an initial course of acupuncture with expectation of continued functional improvement.”
  • Pain (chronic) due to cancer
  • Pain flares “when acupuncture has provided clinical improvement in the past.”

Other Requirements

The condition has to result in functional limitation, i.e. you’re not able to do what you used to be able to do in your daily living, present daily, and persist beyond the typical time frame for untreated recovery. You’ll also need to document your baseline “measurable functional limitations” and show progress over treatment.

Is this list conclusive?

Of course not. ūüôā It’s subject to change, and is only a guideline. Each plan is different as well in the specifics of coverage and number of visits allowed.

Need Help?

Are you new to Kaiser insurance and would like Melissa to verify your acupuncture benefits prior to treatment? Feel free to reach out; she’d be happy to help you.

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Magnesium supplementation
Acupuncture

Magnesium Deficiency: “Unreliably Measured,” “Really Big Deal”

Magnesium Crystal Cluster Close-up

Medical Commentary

Magnesium Deficiency: The Real Emperor of All Maladies?

Author’s Key Points

  • 99% of total body magnesium is located in bone, muscles, and soft tissues; 1% is extracellular.
  • For this reason,¬†testing this mineral’s¬†levels with¬†blood tests¬†won’t¬†accurately reflect whether there is depletion in the body’s stores.
  • Magnesium is involved in 300 regulatory enzyme systems controlling muscle, nerve, bone, protein, DNA, glucose, and energy metabolism.
  • Symptoms associated with deficiency include:
    • various arrhythmias, hypertension, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, anxiety, seizures, leg cramps, restless legs syndrome, kidney stones, myocardial infarction, headaches, premenstrual syndrome, fibromyalgia, chest pain, osteoporosis, altitude sickness, diabetes, fatigue, weakness, and other maladies.
  • A 2009 World Health Organization report¬†stated 75% of Americans consumed less magnesium than needed.

Food Sources of Magnesium

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Issues of Absorption and Excess

The recommended daily allowance for magnesium in adults roughly ranges 300-400 mg. The NIH reports, “[F]orms of magnesium that dissolve well in liquid are more completely absorbed in the gut than less soluble forms. Small studies have found that magnesium in the aspartate, citrate, lactate, and chloride forms is absorbed more completely and is more bioavailable than magnesium oxide and magnesium sulfate.” There has¬†also been more interest lately among healthcare professional in topical delivery of the mineral, whether through soaks, sprays or oils.¬†For more on¬†this topic,¬†consider reading, “Transdermal Magnesium Therapy: A New Modality for the Maintenance of HealthReferences,” or blog post, “Topical Magnesium: How it Works.”

FYI — while the kidneys elimintate¬†excessive magnesium, too much supplementation can result in¬†a laxative effect. For this reason, many folks prefer to titrate up rather than start at 400 mg/day.¬†There’s also risk of toxicity at extremely high levels (e.g. 5000 mg/day).

Magnesium and Migraines/Headaches

Those who suffer from migraine headaches may have genetic factors that affect their absorption and excretion of magnesium. There’s a 2012 paper that sheds quite a bit of light on this subject: “Why all migraine patients should be treated with magnesium.” It may be especially important for these folks to supplement the mineral.

Personally, I find a topical spray applied locally can be quite helpful for those with tension in their neck who suffer related headaches. There are also some good internal herbal formulas and essential oil blends that can be quite helpful in case of mitigating migraines. A popular herbal favorite that also contains magnesium is MigreLief.

If supplementation and over-the-counter treatments aren’t cutting it for, definitely consider acupuncture and a¬†herbal consultation. A 2014 systematic review of acupuncture versus medication found, “Along with established prophylactic drug therapy used for migraines, the use of acupuncture can be an effective treatment in the prophylaxes of migraines. The side effects are relatively minor, specifically in comparison to a pharmaceutical alternative.” What’s better, in Washington state, acupuncture is now considered an essential health benefit — migraine treatment is covered!


References

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Acupuncture

The Leaning Tower of Your Body

Mortons toe

As early as age 14 I was diagnosed with a ligament tear in my knee, and soft cartilage in both knees. Fast forward a few decades and the musculoskeletal issues continued–with ankle sprains, cervical subluxation, kneecap subluxation, and so on. Over the years I saw everyone from orthopedists and physiatrists, to acupuncturists/herbalists, massage therapists, energy workers, chiropractors, a postural therapist, and a podiatrist. So you can imagine my *genuine* surprise when I recently learned about something called Morton’s Syndrome (also known as Morton’s Foot), and realized I had never heard of it.

Let’s take a look:

Morton's Foot in Xray View

You’ll see I’ve drawn a line on these sample x-rays to point to the lengths of what are called the first and second metatarsals (the long bones shown here in the middle of the foot). Morton’s Foot is when the second metatarsal is longer than the first (yes, it’s slightly more complicated than that, but this is the gist.) So, if you take a peep at the image to the left, you’ll see that second bone noticeably pops up over the line; whereas on the right image here, it doesn’t so much. Commonly, but not necessarily, an individual with Morton’s Foot will have a longer second toe than their big toe (as seen in the top image of this post).

Luckily for us, you don’t need an x-ray to see the heads of these long bones! To check your own feet, simply curl your toes downward; for most people this will be enough to allow the heads of the metatarsals to be seen clearly. If you need an extra push, just push from the underside of your feet (just under the second toe) while your toes are curled downward. Which one is longer, your first or your second?

At first, this may not seem like such big news. After all, you can’t even find proper stats on this phenomenon– sources will vary in saying anywhere from 10% to 20% to 25% of the general population share this structural anomaly. But, remember the story of the Princess and the Pea? The body can’t rest until everything is juuuuuuust right. Ideally, and I suppose technically “normally,” our weight is evenly distributed between the heads of the first and fifth metatarsals (this is the end of the bone by the line), and the heel. This creates a ‘tripod’ effect in the foot. But for us Morton’s Foot folks, our second metatarsal bone comes down first, because of its length. (Pea!!)¬†The body then does some circus tricks and comes up with a brand new idea – a twist here, a turn here and voila! The body can put the weight back where it’s supposed to be, on the first and fifth metatarsals. So, picture an ankle that folds down and in (i.e. pronates), and a foot that points out like a duck– a position that forces the big toe’s long bone to come down first. I picture the body like Jenga here, that as we futz with the base, twisting our supports, everything above starts to lose it… slowly, but surely!

From the toes up, you can see the repercussions of our body’s circus act in twisted ankles, knees, hips, back and neck. Morton’s Foot could be the culprit in even fibromyalgia and chronic headaches. The truth is, strong power can come in small packages– and Chinese medicine is totally awesome at treating pain with its tiny needles and many herbs; and in this case, tiny pads that go in your shoes are equally recommended! The cheapest option can be to place pads under the balls of your big toe, affixed to an flat insole in the shoe (and slippers); this rightly makes the first metatarsal the first place of impact. Right now, I’ve just got those round felt pads that go under furniture legs in my shoes to see how it goes. So far – I really notice a difference in my gait and resting posture. (I’m quite excited, actually!!) My next step is to try out these fancy insoles that even accomodate for low and high arches.

How about you? Did you know about this already? (What did you do about it? Did it work?)

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Chinese Herbs & Supplements, Treatment Modalities, Uncategorized

Bone-Tired

Adrenal fatigue. I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve had people come in over the last few months complaining of adrenal fatigue. And yet, according to Mayo Clinic, a not-for-profit medical education and research organization, the condition isn’t even an “accepted” medical diagnosis. I am sure my Naturopath¬†colleagues would have something radically different to say on the subject; but as for us Chinese medicine practitioners, we certainly understand what it means to feel bone-tired.

For everything that we do there is a give-and-take. There’s no exception here! You can’t cheat needing to give and you can’t cheat needing to get. It is just as healthy and universal a need to receive support as it is for us to¬†contribute, and be recognized for our unique contribution. But how often do we find ourselves trying not to be ‘needy’? Trying to show we can do more with less? Trying to show we are more capable than the next guy because we can cut more corners? Our society demands almost nothing less.

We’ve started to notice a trend in our children – an inability to stay present and focused with a single task at a time. The National Survey of Children’s Health (NSCH) found that in just 4 years parent-reported cases [of ever having] Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder in children ages 3-17 increased by almost 22%. (Yowza!) Increased awareness of the issue has brought learning aid to millions of children. But what about adults?

On the job, adults are managing more information than ever. The landline rings, a colleague stops in to get an answer, the smartphone buzzes you have a new text, the computer pops up a reminder that you have a meeting; you need to get on Skype in 10 minutes to have a meeting with Japan. And forget business owners Рwho on top of doing their job have to then talk about doing their job on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, etc. One thing leads to another, and Bam!  About 75% of the US adult population find themselves working over 40 hours/week (2006). And guess what else? We also start to see Attention Deficit Trait in adults. More and more people are feeling exhausted and overwhelmed.

In Chinese medicine, we talk about two sources of energy in the body – one is like the gas we add to a vehicle, the other like the vehicle’s battery. Our fuel is our sleep, our food, our friendships, our alone time. Our battery is our deepest resource – our fuel to be alive. ¬†Feeling bone-tired is deeper than having too much to do. It’s about not knowing when to rest (i.e. not enough fuel); and when we don’t rest we can start to lose touch with our drive for life– a sign that we’ve fully depleted our fuel and are actually starting to drain our body’s most precious battery.

Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine are great tools to help your body get back on track; and knowing when to ask for help is integral to the healing process. So is listening to your body’s queues: Does your stomach feel tight? Have you been experiencing more headaches? Has your heart been racing? Is it difficult for you to fall asleep? Remember, sometimes actually doing less will help you accomplish more.

Interested to read more? I love this article on how long you’ll truly be productive at work (note to self: that’s only 6 hours/day for thinkers). In fact, they’ve shown folks who consistently sleep less than 6 hours/night have shown cognitive impairment equivalent to not having slept at all for two nights.

Go team!!

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Bone-tired
Acupuncture, Chinese Herbs & Supplements, Self-Care

Adrenal Fatigue: Feeling Bone-Tired

adrenal fatigue

Adrenal Fatigue

Adrenal fatigue. I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve had people come in over the last few months complaining of adrenal fatigue. And yet, according to Mayo Clinic, a not-for-profit medical education and research organization, the condition isn’t even an “accepted” medical diagnosis. I am sure my Naturopath¬†colleagues would have something radically different to say on the subject; but as for us Chinese medicine practitioners, we certainly understand what it means to feel bone-tired.

Learning Balance

For everything that we do there is a give-and-take. There’s no exception here! You can’t cheat needing to give and you can’t cheat needing to get. It is just as healthy and universal a need to receive support as it is for us to¬†contribute, and be recognized for our unique contribution. But how often do we find ourselves trying not to be ‘needy’? Trying to show we can do more with less? Trying to show we are more capable than the next guy because we can cut more corners? Our society demands almost nothing less.

Information Overload

We’ve started to notice a trend in our children – an inability to stay present and focused with a single task at a time. The National Survey of Children’s Health (NSCH) found that in just 4 years parent-reported cases [of ever having] Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder in children ages 3-17 increased by almost 22%. (Yowza!) Increased awareness of the issue has brought learning aid to millions of children. But what about adults?

On the job, adults are managing more information than ever. The landline rings, a colleague stops in to get an answer, the smartphone buzzes you have a new text, the computer pops up a reminder that you have a meeting; you need to get on Skype in 10 minutes to have a meeting with Japan. And forget business owners Рwho on top of doing their job have to then talk about doing their job on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, etc. One thing leads to another, and Bam!  About 75% of the US adult population find themselves working over 40 hours/week (2006). And guess what else? We also start to see Attention Deficit Trait in adults. More and more people are feeling exhausted and overwhelmed.

Draining¬†the body’s battery

In Chinese medicine, we talk about two sources of energy in the body – one is like the gas we add to a vehicle, the other like the vehicle’s battery. Our fuel is our sleep, our food, our friendships, our alone time. Our battery is our deepest resource – our fuel to be alive. ¬†Feeling bone-tired is deeper than having too much to do. It’s about not knowing when to rest (i.e. not enough fuel); and when we don’t rest we can start to lose touch with our drive for life– a sign that we’ve fully depleted our fuel and are actually starting to drain our body’s most precious battery.

Managing fatigue

Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine are great tools to help your body get back on track; and knowing when to ask for help is integral to the healing process. So is listening to your body’s queues: Does your stomach feel tight? Have you been experiencing more headaches? Has your heart been racing? Is it difficult for you to fall asleep? Remember, sometimes actually doing less will help you accomplish more.

Interested to read more? I love this article on how long you’ll truly be productive at work (note to self: that’s only 6 hours/day for thinkers). In fact, they’ve shown folks who consistently sleep less than 6 hours/night have shown cognitive impairment equivalent to not having slept at all for two nights.

Go team!!

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