Jonathan H. Poznansky, Attorney at Law

Acupuncture treatment for workers' compensation vetoed

It may be a new year, but so far there are no new treatment options being offered for workers’ compensation back pain claims.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo recently vetoed a bill (S.B. 6666) that would have allowed wounded workers to seek acupuncture treatment.

The back-pain problem

Most workers compensation claims are for strains or sprains, rather than fractures, cuts and punctures.

Back pain, in particular, is a major issue in the US, with 8 out of 10 Americans experiencing back problems at some point during their life.

How acupuncture helps

Acupuncture works by inserting thin needles into pressure points on the body. While this may sound painful, the practice actually promotes a sense of relaxation and well-being. There are few adverse side effects — most of which are rare.

Practitioners rooted in the origins of this Chinese custom may attribute these sensations to spiritual beliefs. However, anatomically, scientists believe that the stimulation to the central nervous system triggers a release of natural opioids that lessen pain or promote sleep. Additionally, the practice may release neurohormones, neurotransmitters and endorphins, which all produce positive bodily changes.

The American College of Physicians (ACP) has numerous publications, including the Annals of Internal Medicine, endorsing the use of acupuncture to cure chronic low back pain.

Available treatment options

The medical treatment guidelines for low back pain that can be funded through workers’ compensation insurance include:

  • Medications — including acetaminophen, vitamins and skeletal muscle relaxants
  • Sleep posture recommendations
  • Therapy — including yoga, strengthening and stabilization exercises and aquatic therapy
  • Operative procedures — including various surgeries

Those who receive back injuries at work may opt to receive acupuncture treatment. However, the treatment would not be paid for through the employer’s workers’ compensation insurance policy.

When an incident at work causes back pain

If you begin to experience back pain after an incident at work, don’t hesitate to let your employer know as soon as possible. Failing to provide your supervisor with this news immediately could impact a workers’ compensation claim.

Further, you’ll want to seek medical attention as soon as possible to prevent it from becoming worse. For help filing your claim, finding the appropriate practitioner and ensuring you get the treatment you deserve, contact a workers’ compensation attorney for help.

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