Payment for Chiropractic Care under Virginia Workers Compensation


Did you hurt your back, neck, shoulder, or knees in a work-related accident? Then your treating physician may recommend that you undergo conservative medical treatment such as chiropractic care.


Chiropractic care is a drug-free approach to trying to recover without surgery. It’s often used to treat musculoskeletal injuries and radiating pain due to disc herniation or headaches.


Chiropractors undergo eight years of education – four years of undergraduate and four years of graduate school. They also have to take and pass national board examinations.


If the insurance company agrees to enter into an award agreement or you win your case at a workers compensation hearing, then you can receive many different workers comp benefits. These benefits include lifetime medical treatment for your work-related injury. But don’t be surprised if the insurance company tries to deny chiropractic treatment for your workers comp injury.


Virginia Code Section 65.2-603(D) Covers Chiropractic Services


The Virginia General Assembly has made it clear that chiropractic care is considered medical treatment under the Workers’ Compensation Act.


Virginia Code Section 65.2-603(D) states that the “terms ‘medical attention,’ ‘medical service,’ ‘medical care,’ and ‘medical report’ shall be deemed to include chiropractic service or treatment and, where appropriate, a chiropractic treatment report.” And the Commission has established that chiropractic services and treatment are included within the medical benefits available to employees who have suffered an injury by accident arising out of and in the course of the employment.


Virginia Code Section 54.1-2900 defines the “practice of chiropractic” as “the adjustment of the 24 movable vertebrae of the spinal column, and assisting nature for the purpose of normalizing the transmission of nerve energy, but does not include the use of surgery, obstetrics, osteopathy, or the administration or prescribing of any drugs, medicines, serums or vaccines.”


Chiropractic care also includes “performing the physical examination of an application for a commercial driver’s license or commercial learner’s permit pursuant to Virginia Code Section 46.2-341.12 if the chiropractic practitioner has (i) applied for and received certification as a medical examiner pursuant to 49 C.F.R. Part 390, Subpart D and (ii) registered with the National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners.”


Though the Commission will require the employer to pay for chiropractic treatment when the injured employee establishes that such treatment is reasonable and necessary, the Commission has refused to expand the definition of chiropractic care beyond the statutory definition.


For example, your claim for permanent partial disability benefits under workers compensation will likely be denied if you rely on permanent impairment ratings from a chiropractor.


Why Employers and Insurance Carriers May Challenge Chiropractic Treatment for Your Work Injuries


In my experience employers and insurers are hesitant to approve treatment with a chiropractor. This is because they can have a difficult time limiting the number of visits and the amount of treatment.


Usually employers and insurers will try to transfer your care to an orthopedic specialist if you do not experience significant improvement after three to four months of chiropractic care.


We recommend having your treating doctor write and sign a narrative report explaining how chiropractic care can help you recover from your work injuries. Your chiropractor should do the same. The more detailed and specific, the better. You should also have a medical doctor or osteopathic doctor sign off on all impairment ratings from a chiropractor. This way the Commission will give them more weight and you can receive more money in your pocket.


Need help getting reasonable and necessary medical treatment covered by workers comp? We can help. Virginia work injury attorney Corey Pollard is here to guide you every step of the way: from filing a workers compensation claim to conducting discovery to getting approved for benefits to getting your chiropractic care covered to obtaining a valuable workers comp settlement. All you have to do is contact us.