Alternative Medical Care and Ohio Workers’ CompensationWhen you experience a work injury, the most important thing to do is to seek medical care. Getting prompt treatment from an appropriate provider is vital to your well-being and a successful Ohio workers’ compensation claim.

However, many injured workers wonder just where to seek care. What providers are available? What types of treatments are covered? Whether traditional treatments have failed or you simply prefer different care, workers may want to pursue alternative medicine.

While Ohio’s workers’ compensation system offers more traditional medical care, there are alternative options available. Here, learn more about what alternative medicine is and what kinds of treatment may help you recover from a work-related injury.

What Is Alternative Medicine?

Alternative medicine is the name given to medical practices that fall outside the scope of Western, traditional medicine. Typically, these treatments involve the use of natural products, mind practices, and body practices. Alternative medicine emphasizes a focus on the whole body, rather than just the specific injury, and attempts to address a patient’s physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health. Some of the most common examples of alternative medicine include:

  • Chiropractic care
  • Acupuncture
  • Massage
  • Meditation
  • Yoga
  • Hypnotherapy
  • Movement therapy
  • Biofeedback
  • Herbs and supplements
  • Probiotics

Many people also use the term complementary medicine to describe this care. Complementary medicine involves the use of both alternative care and Western medicine together, and this approach is much more common than using alternative care alone.

Alternative Medical Care Covered by Ohio Workers’ Compensation

Most workers’ compensation benefits focus on traditional medicine, but the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) offers several alternative care options for injured workers, which include:

  • Chiropractic care – Chiropractic medicine most commonly involves spinal manipulation to relieve pain and increase the mobility of the neck, back, and joints. This is a hands-on, drug-free approach.
  • Acupuncture – With origins in traditional Chinese medicine, this technique involves practitioners stimulating certain parts of the body by inserting thin needles into the skin in specific locations.
  • Massage – Massage is the manipulation of soft tissue, and it falls under the umbrella of manipulative treatment that can be covered by workers’ compensation benefits.
  • Biofeedback – This therapy is a drug-free treatment in which patients learn to control typically involuntary body processes by using electrodes and many mental activities to pinpoint effective methods. Biofeedback is often used to address chronic body pain, headaches, high blood pressure, and more.

Workers’ compensation in Ohio does not cover the use of medical marijuana, as state law stipulates that only drugs approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) can be covered by the BWC.

Obtaining Alternative Medical Care Through the BWC

Alternative care is available to Ohio’s injured workers, though certain rules govern its use. Injured workers must receive prior authorization to ensure the treatments are paid for. In a notable exception, workers can seek up to 12 chiropractic care or massage appointments to treat soft tissue and musculoskeletal injuries within the first 60 days after injury without prior authorization. For all other treatments, this prior authorization is submitted by the physician of record or treating physician. Then, the managed care organization will consider the request using official disability guidelines. Like other types of care, alternative care must be administered by a BWC-approved provider. Every case is unique, and injured workers may obtain a wide range of alternative care depending on their unique situation.

If you or someone you love has suffered a work-related illness or injury, it is vital to obtain medical care. This care can encompass a wide range of medicine, including alternative methods that some patients may prefer. At Monast Law Office, our experienced Ohio legal team helps injured workers secure the care and compensation they need to move forward with their lives. To learn more about your rights and options after a work injury, request a free copy of our book, The Workers’ Guide to Injury Compensation in Ohio.


James Monast
Connect with me
Board-Certified Workers’ Compensation Attorney in Columbus, Ohio