When people think about chiropractic services, most think of the local private practice. Often times, these clinics do not accept Medicaid and may even be cash-only practices.

This poses a challenge for many people in our communities who suffer from chronic pain, notably our lower-income families and individuals. Many struggle to afford the care they need and aren’t able to be treated often enough to have a meaningful impact on their conditions. In cases in which patients do have access to a clinic that takes Medicaid, they are limited to a certain number of visits and often have copays to consider. And as we know, it can all add up very quickly.

When I was in private practice, chronic-pain patients often would have to stretch out their limited number of visits just to maintain a somewhat tolerable symptom status. Again, because of these limitations, patients were not able to be treated often enough or long enough to achieve any lasting results and would become stuck in a downward spiral of worsening symptoms. At NorthLakes, many of those barriers have been removed.

Medicaid patients are able to receive chiropractic care with no copays and in many cases Medicaid patients also qualify for the NorthLakes sliding-fee scale, which not only removes the barrier of having a limited number of visits but also gives access to an array of other services that Medicaid doesn’t cover. With the sliding-fee scale, patients have coverage for maintenance and preventive care as well as coverage for the different therapeutic modalities we offer such as muscle stimulation, ultrasound and laser therapies. With those options we are able to find the right combination of treatment to reach the patient’s goals then maintain that status through periodic maintenance visits and self-care.

Self-care is an important component in maintaining that optimal status for chronic pain patients and is also one of the most difficult components as far as follow-through. When devising an at-home care plan it is important to choose realistic activities. I often recommend one or two activities to start, that can easily be added into an activity they already have in their routine. An example would be adding a simple stretch when the patient puts on their socks, or range-of-motion exercises that can be done while seated. The idea is to slowly add and modify as the patient progresses and develops healthy habits. As with any chronic condition, it’s important for patients to be seen for regular in-office care as well as do their part through at home and lifestyle chances to prevent flare ups and to slow their condition from worsening.

As a provider at NorthLakes, there is also a great opportunity to influence other aspects of a patient’s health as many of our clinic locations are also highly integrated. In addition to chiropractic, patients also have access to many other services such as dental, behavioral health and medical care, to name a few. And in many cases these services are offered under the same roof. This really allows us to treat the whole person and to truly make an impact in overall wellness. At NorthLakes, people have an option to break out of the downward spiral of chronic pain and improve their quality of life.

Joran Oien is a chiropractor based in Turtle Lake. NorthLakes offers chiropractic services in Ashland, Hayward, Hurley, Iron River, Lakewood, Park Falls and Turtle Lake.

(Copyright © 2021 APG Media)

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