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Delaware General AssemblyDelaware RegulationsMonthly Register of RegulationsJuly 2013

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19 DE Admin. Code 1342
The Secretary of Labor, in accordance with 19 Del.C. §§2322C, has proposed revisions to the rules and regulations relating to the practice guidelines in the Delaware Workers' Compensation Health Care Payment System (HCPS). These proposals to the PART B Chronic Pain Treatment Guidelines 1) remove the reference to maximum medical improvement; 2) correct the Office of Workers' Compensation name; and 3) change the number of allowable maximum visits primarily in section 6.0, Therapeutic Procedures - Non-Operative.
Pursuant to 19 Del.C. §2322C, health care practice guidelines have been adopted and recommended by the Health Care Advisory Panel to guide utilization of health care treatments in workers' compensation including, but not limited to, care provided for the treatment of employees by or under the supervision of a licensed health care provider, prescription drug utilization, inpatient hospitalization and length of stay, diagnostic testing, physical therapy, chiropractic care and palliative care. The health care practice guidelines apply to all treatments provided after the effective date of the regulation adopted by the Department of Labor, May 23, 2008, and regardless of the date of injury.
Services rendered by any health care provider certified pursuant to 19 Del.C. §2322D(a) to provide treatment or services for injured employees shall be presumed, in the absence of contrary evidence, to be reasonable and necessary if such treatment and/or services conform to the most current version of the Delaware health care practice guidelines.
Services provided by any health care provider that is not certified pursuant to 19 Del.C. §2322D(a) shall not be presumed reasonable and necessary unless such services are pre-authorized by the employer or insurance carrier, subject to the exception set forth in 19 Del.C. §2322D(b).
The principles summarized in this section are key to the intended implementation of all Division Office of Workers’ Compensation guidelines and critical to the reader’s application of the guidelines in this document.
2.1 TREATMENT PARAMETER DURATION Time frames for specific interventions commence once treatments have been initiated, not on the date of injury. Obviously, duration will be impacted by patient compliance, as well as availability of services. Clinical judgment may substantiate the need to accelerate or decelerate the time frames discussed in this document.
2.2 ACTIVE INTERVENTIONS emphasizing patient responsibility, such as therapeutic exercise and/or functional treatment, are generally emphasized over passive modalities, especially as treatment progresses. Generally, passive interventions are viewed as a means to facilitate progress in an active rehabilitation program with concomitant attainment of objective functional gains.
2.3 ACTIVE THERAPEUTIC EXERCISE PROGRAM Exercise program goals should incorporate patient strength, endurance, flexibility, coordination, and education. This includes functional application in vocational or community settings.
2.4 POSITIVE PATIENT RESPONSE Positive results are defined primarily as functional gains that can be objectively measured. Objective functional gains include, but are not limited to, positional tolerances, range of motion (ROM), strength, endurance activities of daily living cognition, psychological behavior, and efficiency/velocity measures that can be quantified. Subjective reports of pain and function should be considered and given relative weight when the pain has anatomic and physiologic correlation.
2.5 RE-EVALUATION OF TREATMENT EVERY 3 TO 4 WEEKS With respect to Therapy (Active or Passive), if a given treatment or modality is not producing positive results within 3 to 4 weeks, the treatment should be either modified or discontinued. Reconsideration of diagnosis should also occur in the event of poor response to a seemingly rational intervention.
2.6 SURGICAL INTERVENTIONS Surgery should be contemplated within the context of expected functional outcome and not purely for the purpose of pain relief. The concept of “cure” with respect to surgical treatment by itself is generally a misnomer. All operative interventions must be based upon positive correlation of clinical findings, clinical course, and diagnostic tests. A comprehensive assimilation of these factors must lead to a specific diagnosis with identification of pathologic conditions.
2.7 RETURN-TO-WORK is therapeutic, assuming the work is not likely to aggravate the basic problem or increase long-term pain. The practitioner must provide specific written physical limitations and the patient should never be released to “sedentary” or “light duty.” The following physical limitations should be considered and modified as recommended: lifting, pushing, pulling, crouching, walking, using stairs, overhead work, bending at the waist, awkward and/or sustained postures, tolerance for sitting or standing, hot and cold environments, data entry and other repetitive motion tasks, sustained grip, tool usage and vibration factors. Even if there is residual chronic pain, return-to-work is not necessarily contraindicated.
2.8 DELAYED RECOVERY Strongly consider a psychological evaluation, if not previously provided, as well as initiating interdisciplinary rehabilitation treatment and vocational goal setting, for those patients who are failing to make expected progress 6 to 12 weeks after an injury. The Division Office of Workers' Compensation recognizes that 3 to 10% of all industrially injured patients will not recover within the time lines outlined in this document despite optimal care. Such individuals may require treatments beyond the limits discussed within this document, but such treatment will require clear documentation by the authorized treating practitioner focusing on objective functional gains afforded by further treatment and impact upon prognosis.
2.9 GUIDELINE RECOMMENDATIONS AND INCLUSION OF MEDICAL EVIDENCE recommendations are based on available evidence and/or consensus recommendations of the standard of care within Delaware. Those procedures considered inappropriate, unreasonable, or unnecessary are designated in the guideline as being “not recommended.”
2.10 TREATMENT OF PRE-EXISTING CONDITIONS that preexisted the work injury/disease will need to be managed under two circumstances: (a) A pre-existing condition exacerbated by a work injury/disease should be treated until the patient has returned to their prior level of functioning or MMI; and (b) A pre-existing condition not directly caused by a work injury/disease but which may prevent recovery from that injury should be treated until its negative impact has been controlled. The focus of treatment should remain on the work injury/disease.
Recent advances in the neurosciences reveal additional mechanisms involved in chronic pain. In the past, pain was seen as a sensation arising from the stimulation of pain receptors by damaged tissue, initiating a sequence of nerve signals ending in the brain and there recognized as pain. A consequence of this model was that ongoing pain following resolution of tissue damage was seen as less physiological and more psychological than acute pain with identifiable tissue injury. Current research indicates that chronic pain involves additional mechanisms that cause: 1) neural remodeling at the level of the spinal cord and higher levels of the central nervous system; 2) changes in membrane responsiveness and connectivity leading to activation of larger pain pathways; and 3) recruitment of distinct neurotransmitters. Changes in gene function and expression may occur, with lasting functional consequences. These physiologic functional changes cause chronic pain to be experienced in body regions beyond the original injury and to be exacerbated by little or no stimulation. The chronic pain experience clearly represents both psychologic and complex physiologic mechanisms, many of which are just beginning to be understood. Chronic Pain is defined as "pain that persists for at least 30 days beyond the usual course of an acute disease or a reasonable time for an injury to heal or that is associated with a chronic pathological process that causes continuous pain (e.g., reflex sympathetic dystrophy)." The very definition of chronic pain describes a delay or outright failure to relieve pain associated with some specific illness or accident. Delayed recovery should prompt a clinical review of the case and a psychological evaluation by the health care provider. Referral to a recognized pain specialist for further evaluation is recommended. Consideration may be given to new diagnostic testing or a change in treatment plan.
Most acute and some chronic pain problems are adequately addressed in other Division Office of Workers' Compensation treatment guidelines, and are generally beyond the scope of these guidelines. However, because chronic pain is more often than not multi-factorial, involving more than one pathophysiologic or mental disorder, some overlap with other guidelines is inevitable. These guidelines are meant to apply to any patient who fits the operational definition of chronic pain discussed at the beginning of this section.
Aftersensation Refers to the abnormal persistence of a sensory perception, provoked by a stimulus even though the stimulus has ceased.
Allodynia Pain due to a non-noxious stimulus that does not normally provoke pain.
Dynamic Mechanical Allodynia – Obtained by moving the stimulus such as a brush or cotton tip across the abnormal hypersensitive area.
Mechanical Allodynia – Refers to the abnormal perception of pain from usually non-painful mechanical stimulation.
Static Mechanical Allodynia – Refers to pain obtained by applying a single stimulus such as light pressure to a defined area.
Thermal Allodynia – Refers to the abnormal sensation of pain from usually non-painful thermal stimulation such as cold or warmth.
Analgesia Absence of pain in response to stimulation that would normally be painful.
Biopsychosocial A term that reflects the multiple facets of any clinical situation; namely, the biological, psychological, and social situation of the patient.
Central Pain Pain initiated or caused by a primary lesion or dysfunction in the central nervous system.
Central Sensitization The experience of pain evoked by the excitation of non-nociceptive neurons or of nerve fibers that normally relay non-painful sensations to the spinal cord. This results when non-nociceptive afferent neurons act on a sensitized central nervous system (CNS).
Dysesthesia An abnormal sensation described by the patient as unpleasant. As with paresthesia, dysesthesia may be spontaneous or evoked by maneuvers on physical examination.
Hyperalgesia Refers to an exaggerated pain response from a usually painful stimulation.
Hyperesthesia (Positive Sensory Phenomena) Includes allodynia, hyperalgesia, and hyperpathia. Elicited by light touch, pin prick, cold, warm, vibration, joint position sensation or two-point discrimination, which is perceived as increased or more.
Hyperpathia Refers to an abnormally painful and exaggerated reaction to stimulus, especially to a repetitive stimulus.
Hypoalgesia Diminished pain perception in response to a normally painful stimulus.
Hypoesthesia (Negative Sensory Phenomena) Refers to a stimulus such as light touch, pin prick, cold, point position sensation, two-point discrimination, or sensory neglect which is perceived as decreased.
Malingering Intentional feigning of illness or disability in order to escape work or gain compensation.
Myofascial Pain A regional pain characterized by tender points in taut bands of muscle that produce pain in a characteristic reference zone.
Myofascial Trigger Point A physical sign in a muscle which includes a) exquisite tenderness in a taut muscle band; and b) referred pain elicited by mechanical stimulation of the trigger point. The following findings may be associated with myofascial trigger points: 1) Local twitch or contraction of the taut band when the trigger point is mechanically stimulated; 2) Reproduction of the patient’s spontaneous pain pattern when the trigger point is mechanically stimulated; 3) Weakness without muscle atrophy; 4) Restricted range of motion of the affected muscle; and 5) Autonomic dysfunction associated with the trigger point such as changes in skin or limb temperature.
Neuralgia Pain in the distribution of a nerve or nerves.
Neuritis Inflammation of a nerve or nerves.
Neurogenic Pain Pain initiated or caused by a primary lesion, dysfunction, or transitory perturbation in the peripheral or central nervous system.
Neuropathic Pain Pain due to an injured or dysfunctional central or peripheral nervous system.
Neuropathy A disturbance of function or pathological change in a nerve: in one nerve, mononeuropathy; in several nerves, mononeuropathy multiplex; if diffuse and bilateral, polyneuropathy.
Nociceptor A receptor preferentially sensitive to a noxious stimulus or to a stimulus which would become noxious if prolonged.
Pain Behavior The non-verbal actions (such as grimacing, groaning, limping, using visible pain relieving or support devices and requisition of pain medications, among others) that are outward manifestations of pain, and through which a person may communicate that pain is being experienced.
Pain Threshold The smallest stimulus perceived by a subject as painful.
Paresthesia An abnormal sensation that is not described as pain. It can be either a spontaneous sensation (such as pins and needles) or a sensation evoked from non-painful or painful stimulation, such as light touch, thermal, or pinprick stimulus on physical examination.
Peripheral Neurogenic Pain Pain initiated or caused by a primary lesion or dysfunction or transitory perturbation in the peripheral nervous system.
Peripheral Neuropathic Pain Pain initiated or caused by a primary lesion or dysfunction in the peripheral nervous system.
Summation Refers to abnormally painful sensation to a repeated stimulus although the actual stimulus remains constant. The patient describes the pain as growing and growing as the same intensity stimulus continues.
Sympathetically Maintained Pain (SMP) A pain that is maintained by sympathetic efferent innervations or by circulating catecholamines.
Tender Points Tenderness on palpation at a tendon insertion, muscle belly or over bone. Palpation should be done with the thumb or forefinger, applying pressure approximately equal to a force of 4 kilograms (blanching of the entire nail bed).
5.2 DIAGNOSTIC STUDIES Imaging of the spine and/or extremities is a generally accepted, well-established, and widely used diagnostic procedure when specific indications, based on history and physical examination, are present.
5.3 LABORATORY TESTING is generally accepted well-established and widely used procedures and can provide useful diagnostic and monitoring information. They may be used when there is suspicion of systemic illness, infection, neoplasia, or underlying rheumatologic disorder, connective tissue disorder, or based on history and/or physical examination. Tests include, but are not limited to:
5.4.1 Spinal Diagnostic Injections:
Specific Diagnostic Injections - In general, relief should last for at least the duration of the local anesthetic used and/or should significantly relieve pain and result in functional improvement. The following injections are used primarily for diagnosis:
6.4.1 ACUPUNCTURE is an accepted and widely used procedure for the relief of pain and inflammation, and there is some scientific evidence to support its use. The exact mode of action is only partially understood. Western medicine studies suggest that acupuncture stimulates the nervous system at the level of the brain, promotes deep relaxation, and affects the release of neurotransmitters. Acupuncture is commonly used as an alternative or in addition to traditional Western pharmaceuticals. While it is commonly used when pain medication is reduced or not tolerated, it may be used as an adjunct to physical rehabilitation and/or surgical intervention to hasten the return of functional activity. Acupuncture should be performed by MD, DO or DC with appropriate training. Acupuncture: is the insertion and removal of filiform needles to stimulate acupoints (acupuncture points). Needles may be inserted, manipulated, and retained for a period of time. Acupuncture can be used to reduce pain, reduce inflammation, increase blood flow, increase range of motion, decrease the side effect of medication-induced nausea, promote relaxation in an anxious patient, and reduce muscle spasm. Acupuncture with Electrical Stimulation: is the use of electrical current (micro-amperage or milli-amperage) on the needles at the acupuncture site. It is used to increase effectiveness of the needles by continuous stimulation of the acupoint. Physiological effects (depending on location and settings) can include endorphin release for pain relief, reduction of inflammation, increased blood circulation, analgesia through interruption of pain stimulus, and muscle relaxation. Total Time Frames For Acupuncture and Acupuncture with Electrical Stimulation: Time frames are not meant to be applied to each of the above sections separately. The time frames are to be applied to all acupuncture treatments regardless of the type or combination of therapies being provided. Other Acupuncture Modalities: Acupuncture treatment is based on individual patient needs and therefore treatment may include a combination of procedures to enhance treatment effect. Other procedures may include the use of heat, soft tissue manipulation/massage, and exercise. Refer to Active Therapy (Therapeutic Exercise) and Passive Therapy sections (Massage and Superficial Heat and Cold Therapy) for a description of these adjunctive acupuncture modalities and time frames.
6.4.2 BIOFEEDBACK is a generally well-accepted form of behavioral medicine that helps patients learn self-awareness and self-regulation skills for the purpose of gaining greater control of their physiology. Stress-related psycho physiological reactions may arise as a reaction to organic pain and in some cases may cause pain. Electronic instrumentation is used to monitor the targeted physiology and then displayed or fed back to the patient visually, auditorially, or tactilely with coaching by a biofeedback specialist. Electromyogram (EMG): Used for self-management of pain and stress reactions involving muscle tension. Skin Temperature: Used for self-management of pain and stress reactions, especially vascular headaches. Respiration Feedback (RFB): Used for self-management of pain and stress reactions via breathing control. Respiratory Sinus Arrhythmia (RSA): Used for self-management of pain and stress reactions via synchronous control of heart rate and respiration. Respiratory sinus arrhythmia is a benign phenomena which consists of a small rise in heart rate during inhalation, and a corresponding decrease during exhalation. This phenomenon has been observed in meditators and athletes, and is thought to be a psycho physiological indicator of health. Heart Rate Variability (HRV): Used for self-management of stress via managing cardiac reactivity. Electrodermal Response (EDR): Used for self-management of stress involving palmar sweating or galvanic skin response. Electroencephalograph (EEG, QEEG): Used for self-management of various psychological states by controlling brainwaves.
The goal in biofeedback treatment is normalizing the physiology to the pre-injury status to the extent possible and involves transfer of learned skills to the workplace and daily life. Candidates for biofeedback therapy or training must be motivated to learn and practice biofeedback and self-regulation techniques. In the course of biofeedback treatment, patient stressors are discussed and self-management strategies are devised. If the patient has not been previously evaluated, a psychological evaluation should be performed prior to beginning biofeedback treatment for chronic pain. The psychological evaluation may reveal cognitive difficulties, belief system conflicts, somatic delusions, secondary gain issues, hypochondriasis, and possible biases in patient self-reports, which can affect biofeedback. Home practice of skills is often helpful for mastery and may be facilitated by the use of home training tapes. Psychologists or psychiatrists, who provide psychophysiological therapy which integrates biofeedback with psychotherapy, should be either Biofeedback Certification Institute of America (BCIA) certified or practicing within the scope of their training. All other providers of Biofeedback for chronic pain patients must be BCIA certified and shall have their biofeedback treatment plan approved by the authorized treating psychologist or psychiatrist. Biofeedback treatment must be done in conjunction with the patient’s psychosocial intervention. Biofeedback may also be provided by unlicensed health care providers, who follow a set treatment and educational protocol. Such treatment may utilize standardized material or relaxation tapes.
6.4.3 COMPLEMENTARY ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE (CAM) is a term used to describe a broad range of treatment modalities, a number of which are generally accepted and supported by some scientific evidence, and others which still remain outside the generally accepted practice of conventional Western Medicine. In many of these approaches, there is attention given to the relationship between physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being. While CAM may be performed by a myriad of both licensed and non-licensed health practitioners with training in one or more forms of therapy, credentialed practitioners should be used when available or applicable. Alternative Medical Systems: These are defined as medical practices that have developed their own systems of theory, diagnosis and treatment and have evolved independent of and usually prior to conventional Western Medicine. Some examples are Traditional Chinese Medicine, Ayurvedic Medicine, Homeopathy, and Naturopathy. Mind-Body Interventions: These include practices such as hypnosis, meditation, bioenergetics, and prayer. Biological-based Practices: These include herbal and dietary therapy as well as the use of nutritional supplements. To avoid potential drug interactions, supplements should be used in consultation with the authorized treating physician. Body-Based Therapy: Included in this category are the practices of Yoga and Rolfing bodywork. Energy-Based Practices: Energy-based practices include a wide range of modalities that support physical as well as spiritual and/or emotional healing. Some of the more well-known energy practices include Qi Gong, Tai Chi, Healing Touch and Reiki. Practices such as Qi Gong and Tai Chi are taught to the patient and are based on exercises the patient can practice independently at home. Other energy-based practices such as Healing Touch and Reiki involve a practitioner/patient relationship.
6.4.4 DISTURBANCES OF SLEEP are common in chronic pain. Although primary insomnia may accompany pain as an independent co-morbid condition, it more commonly occurs secondary to the pain condition itself. Exacerbations of pain often are accompanied by exacerbations of insomnia; the reverse can also occur. Sleep laboratory studies have shown disturbances of sleep architecture in pain patients. Loss of deep slow-wave sleep and increase in light sleep occur and sleep efficiency, the proportion of time in bed spent asleep, is decreased. These changes are associated with patient reports of non-restorative sleep.
6.4.5 INJECTIONS—THERAPEUTIC Spinal Therapeutic Injections Epidural Steroid Spinal Injections: Zygapophyseal (Facet) Injection: Sacro-iliac Joint Injection: Trigger Point Injections: Botulinum Toxin (Botox) Injection:
6.4.6 MEDICATIONS Alpha-Acting Agents: Noradrenergic pain-modulating systems are present in the central nervous system, and the alpha-2 adrenergic receptor may be involved in the functioning of these pathways. Alpha-2 agonists may act by stimulating receptors in the substantia gelatinosa of the dorsal horn of the spinal cord, inhibiting the transmission of nociceptive signals. Spasticity may be reduced by presynaptic inhibition of motor neurons. Given limited experience with their use, they cannot be considered first-line analgesics, but a trial of their use may be warranted in many cases of refractory pain. Anticonvulsants: Although the mechanism of action of anticonvulsant drugs in neuropathic pain states remains to be fully defined, they appear to act as nonselective sodium channel blocking agents. A large variety of sodium channels are present in nervous tissue, and some of these are important mediators of nociception, as they are found primarily in unmyelinated fibers and their density increases following nerve injury. While the pharmacodynamic effects of the various anticonvulsant drugs are similar, the pharmacokinetic effects differ significantly. Carbamazepine has important effects as an inducer of hepatic enzymes and may influence the metabolism of other drugs enough to present problems in patients taking more than one drug. Gabapentin and oxcarbazepine, by contrast, are relatively non-significant enzyme inducers, creating fewer drug interactions. Antidepressants: are classified into a number of categories based on their chemical structure and their effects on neurotransmitter systems. Their effects on depression are attributed to their actions on disposition of norepinephrine and serotonin at the level of the synapse; although these synaptic actions are immediate, the symptomatic response in depression is delayed by several weeks. When used for chronic pain, the effects may in part arise from treatment of underlying depression, but may also involve additional neuromodulatory effects on endogenous opioid systems, raising pain thresholds at the level of the spinal cord. Hypnotics and Sedatives: Sedative and hypnotic drugs decrease activity, induce drowsiness, and moderate agitation. Many drugs produce these effects incidental to their usual intended effects, similar to the side effects of many antihistamines and antidepressants. Skeletal Muscle Relaxants: are most useful for acute musculoskeletal injury or exacerbation of injury. Opioids: are the most powerful analgesics. Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs: Topical Drug Delivery: Other Agents:
6.4.7 ORTHOTICS/PROSTHETICS/EQUIPMENT Devices and adaptive equipment may be necessary in order to reduce impairment and disability, to facilitate medical recovery, to avoid re-aggravation of the injury, and to maintain maximum medical improvement. Indications would be to provide relief of the industrial injury or prevent further injury and include the need to control neurological and orthopedic injuries for reduced stress during functional activities. In addition, they may be used to modify tasks through instruction in the use of a device or physical modification of a device. Equipment needs may need to be reassessed periodically.
6.4.8 PERSONALITY/PSYCHOLOGICAL/PSYCHOSOCIAL INTERVENTION Psychosocial treatment is a generally accepted, well-established therapeutic and diagnostic procedure with selected use in acute pain problems, but with more widespread use in sub-acute and chronic pain populations. Psychosocial treatment may be important component in the total management of a patient with chronic pain and should be implemented as soon as the problem is identified.
6.4.9 RESTRICTION OF ACTIVITIES Continuation of normal daily activities is the goal for chronic pain patients since immobility will negatively affect rehabilitation. Prolonged immobility results in a wide range of deleterious effects, such as a reduction in aerobic capacity and conditioning, loss of muscle strength and flexibility, increased segmental stiffness, promotion of bone demineralization, impaired disc nutrition, and the facilitation of the illness role.
6.4.10 RETURN-TO-WORK is one of the major components in chronic pain management.
REHABILITATION – It is understood Individuals with Chronic Pain may require additional visits due to acute exacerbations. The practitioner is required to document the rationale for care and may be subject to Utilization Review. All visit limits pertain to an annual amount. It is also understood that practitioners should only provide treatment that is consistent with impairments and dysfunctions identified by a comprehensive physical assessment.
6.4.11 THERAPY–ACTIVE therapies are based on the philosophy that therapeutic exercise and/or activity are beneficial for restoring flexibility, strength, endurance, function, range of motion, and alleviating discomfort. Active therapy requires an internal effort by the individual to complete a specific exercise or task, and thus assists in developing skills promoting independence to allow self-care after discharge. This form of therapy requires supervision from a therapist or medical provider such as verbal, visual, and/or tactile instructions. At times a provider may help stabilize the patient or guide the movement pattern but the energy required to complete the task is predominately executed by the patient. Activities of Daily Living: Supervised instruction, active-assisted training, and/or adaptation of activities or equipment to improve a person’s capacity in normal daily living activities such as self-are, work re-integration training, homemaking, and driving. Functional Activities: are the use of therapeutic activity to enhance mobility, body mechanics, employability, coordination, and sensory motor integration. Nerve Gliding: exercises consist of a series of flexion and extension movements of the hand, wrist, elbow, shoulder, and neck that produce tension and longitudinal movement along the length of the median and other nerves of the upper extremity. These exercises are based on the principle that the tissues of the peripheral nervous system are designed for movement, and that tension and glide (excursion) of nerves may have an effect on neurophysiology through alterations in vascular and axoplasmic flow. Biomechanical principles have been more thoroughly studied than clinical outcomes. Neuromuscular Re-education: is the skilled application of exercise with manual, mechanical, or electrical facilitation to enhance strength, movement patterns, neuromuscular response, proprioception, kinesthetic sense, coordination education of movement, balance, and posture. Indications include the need to promote neuromuscular responses through carefully timed proprioceptive stimuli, to elicit and improve motor activity in patterns similar to normal neurologically developed sequences, and improve neuromotor response with independent control. Proper Work Techniques: Please refer to the “Job Site Evaluation” and “Job Site Alteration” sections of these guidelines. Therapeutic Exercise: with or without mechanical assistance or resistance may include isoinertial, isotonic, isometric and isokinetic types of exercises. Indications include the need for cardiovascular fitness, reduced edema, improved muscle strength, improved connective tissue strength and integrity, increased bone density, promotion of circulation to enhance soft tissue healing, improvement of muscle recruitment, increased range of motion, and are used to promote normal movement patterns. Can also include complementary/alternative exercise movement therapy.
Maximum duration: 36 24 visits, and maximum of 24 in combination with functional activities
6.4.12 THERAPY — PASSIVE Most of the following passive therapies and modalities are generally accepted methods of care for a variety of work-related injuries. Passive therapy includes those treatment modalities that do not require energy expenditure on the part of the patient. They are principally effective during the early phases of treatment and are directed at controlling symptoms such as pain, inflammation and swelling and to improve the rate of healing soft tissue injuries. They should be used adjunctively with active therapies such as postural stabilization and exercise programs to help control swelling, pain, and inflammation during the active rehabilitation process. Please refer to Section B. 4. General Guideline Principles, Active Interventions. Passive therapies may be used intermittently as a provider deems appropriate or regularly if there are specific goals with objectively measured functional improvements during treatment. Electrical Stimulation (Unattended and Attended): is an accepted treatment. Once applied, unattended electrical stimulation requires minimal on-site supervision by the provider. Indications include pain, inflammation, muscle spasm, atrophy, decreased circulation, and the need for osteogenic stimulation. A home unit should be purchased if treatment is effective and frequent use is recommended. Iontophoresis: is an accepted treatment which consists of the transfer of medication, including, but not limited to, steroidal anti-inflammatories and anesthetics, through the use of electrical stimulation. Indications include pain (Lidocaine), inflammation (hydrocortisone, salicylate), edema (mecholyl, hyaluronidase, salicylate), ischemia (magnesium, mecholyl, iodine), muscle spasm (magnesium, calcium), calcific deposits (acetate), scars, and keloids (sodium chloride, iodine, acetate). There is no proven benefit for this therapy in the low back Manipulation: is generally accepted, well-established and widely used therapeutic intervention for low back pain. Manipulative Treatment (not therapy) is defined as the therapeutic application of manually guided forces by an operator to improve physiologic function and/or support homeostasis that has been altered by the injury or occupational disease, and has associated clinical significance. Massage — Manual or Mechanical: Massage is manipulation of soft tissue with broad ranging relaxation and circulatory benefits. This may include techniques that include pressing, lifting, rubbing, pinching of soft tissues by, or with, the practitioner's hands. Indications include edema (peripheral or hard and non-pliable edema), muscle spasm, adhesions, the need to improve peripheral circulation and range of motion, or to increase muscle relaxation and flexibility prior to exercise. Mobilization (Joint): is a generally well-accepted treatment. Mobilization is passive movement involving oscillatory motions to the vertebral segment(s). The passive mobility is performed in a graded manner (I, II, III, IV, or V), which depicts the speed and depth of joint motion during the maneuver. For further discussion on Level V joint mobilization please see section on HVLA manipulation [Refer to section 12. d.]. It may include skilled manual joint tissue stretching. Indications include the need to improve joint play, segmental alignment, improve intracapsular arthrokinematics, or reduce pain associated with tissue impingement. Mobilization should be accompanied by active therapy. For Level V mobilization contraindications include joint instability, fractures, severe osteoporosis, infection, metastatic cancer, active inflammatory arthritides, aortic aneurysm, and signs of progressive neurologic deficits. Mobilization (Soft Tissue): is a generally well-accepted treatment. Mobilization of soft tissue is the skilled application of muscle energy, strain/counter strain, myofascial release, manual trigger point release, and manual therapy techniques designed to improve or normalize movement patterns through the reduction of soft tissue pain and restrictions. These can be interactive with the patient participating or can be with the patient relaxing and letting the practitioner move the body tissues. Indications include muscle spasm around a joint, trigger points, adhesions, and neural compression. Mobilization should be accompanied by active therapy. Short-Wave Diathermy: is an accepted treatment which involves the use of equipment that exposes soft tissue to a magnetic or electrical field. Indications include enhanced collagen extensibility before stretching, reduced muscle guarding, reduced inflammatory response, and enhanced re-absorption of hemorrhage/hematoma or edema. It is an accepted modality as an adjunct to acupuncture or situation where other forms of contact superficial heat is contraindicated. Superficial Heat and Cold Therapy (excluding Infrared Therapy): is a generally accepted treatment. Superficial heat and cold are thermal agents applied in various manners that lower or raise the body tissue temperature for the reduction of pain, inflammation, and/or effusion resulting from injury or induced by exercise. Includes application of heat just above the surface of the skin at acupuncture points. Indications include acute pain, edema and hemorrhage, need to increase pain threshold, reduce muscle spasm, and promote stretching/flexibility. Cold and heat packs can be used at home as an extension of therapy in the clinic setting.
Maximum duration: 24 12 visits, with a maximum of 1 unit per day Traction—Mechanical: Traction modalities are contraindicated in patients with tumor, infections, fracture, or fracture dislocation. Non-oscillating inversion traction methods are contraindicated in patients with glaucoma or hypertension. Motorized traction devices are included (i.e. VAX-D, DRX9000, etc.) Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS): is a generally accepted treatment. TENS should include at least one instructional session for proper application and use. Indications include muscle spasm, atrophy, and decreased circulation and pain control. Minimal TENS unit parameters should include pulse rate, pulse width and amplitude modulation. Consistent, measurable functional improvement should be documented prior to the purchase of a home unit. Ultrasound (Including Phonophoresis): is an accepted treatment. Ultrasound uses sonic generators to deliver acoustic energy for therapeutic thermal and/or non-thermal soft tissue effects. Indications include scar tissue, adhesions, collagen fiber and muscle spasm, and the need to extend muscle tissue or accelerate the soft tissue healing. Ultrasound with electrical stimulation is concurrent delivery of electrical energy that involves dispersive electrode placement. Indications include muscle spasm, scar tissue, pain modulation, and muscle facilitation.
Maximum duration: 24 18 visits
6.4.13 THERAPY—ACTIVE The following active therapies are widely used and accepted methods of care for a variety of work-related injuries. They are based on the philosophy that therapeutic exercise and/or activity are beneficial for restoring flexibility, strength, endurance, function, range of motion, and can alleviate discomfort. Active therapy requires an internal effort by the individual to complete a specific exercise or task. This form of therapy requires supervision from a provider such as verbal, visual, and/or tactile instruction(s). At times, the provider may help stabilize the patient or guide the movement pattern but the energy required to complete the task is predominately executed by the patient. Activities of Daily Living (ADL) are well-established interventions which involve instruction, active-assisted training, and/or adaptation of activities or equipment to improve a person's capacity in normal daily activities such as self-care, work re-integration training, homemaking, and driving. Aquatic Therapy: is a well-accepted treatment which consists of the therapeutic use of aquatic immersion for therapeutic exercise to promote strengthening, core stabilization, endurance, range of motion, flexibility, body mechanics, and pain management. Aquatic therapy includes the implementation of active therapeutic procedures in a swimming or therapeutic pool. The water provides a buoyancy force that lessens the amount of force gravity applies to the body. The decreased gravity effect allows the patient to have a mechanical advantage and more likely have a successful trial of therapeutic exercise. The therapy may be indicated for individuals who:
Maximum duration: 26 14 visits inclusive of electrical stimulation codes. If beneficial, provide with home unit.
Successful management of chronic pain conditions results in fewer relapses requiring intense medical care. Failure to address long-term management as part of the overall treatment program may lead to higher costs and greater dependence on the health care system. Management of CRPS and CPD continues after the patient has met the definition of maximum medical improvement (MMI). MMI is declared when a patient’s condition has plateaued and the authorized treating physician believes no further medical intervention is likely to result in improved function. However, MMI does not mean the end of active medical intervention.
8.5.1 HOME EXERCISE PROGRAMS AND EXERCISE EQUIPMENT Most patients have the ability to participate in a home exercise program after completion of a supervised exercise rehabilitation program. Programs should incorporate an exercise prescription including the continuation of an age-adjusted and diagnosis-specific program for aerobic conditioning, flexibility, stabilization, and strength. Some patients may benefit from the purchase or rental of equipment to maintain a home exercise program. Determination for the need of home equipment should be based on medical necessity to maintain MMI, compliance with an independent exercise program, and reasonable cost. Before the purchase or long-term rental of equipment, the patient should be able to demonstrate the proper use and effectiveness of the equipment. Effectiveness of equipment should be evaluated on its ability to improve or maintain functional areas related to activities of daily living or work activity. Occasionally, compliance evaluations may be made through a 4-week membership at a facility offering similar equipment. Home exercise programs are most effective when done 3 to 5 times a week.
8.5.2 EXERCISE PROGRAMS REQUIRING SPECIAL FACILITIES Some patients may have higher compliance with an independent exercise program at a health club versus participation in a home program. All exercise programs completed through a health club facility should focus on the same parameters of an age-adjusted and diagnosis-specific program for aerobic conditioning, flexibility, stabilization, and strength. Selection of health club facilities should be limited to those able to track attendance and utilization, and provide records available for physician and insurer review. Prior to purchasing a membership, a therapist and/or exercise specialist who has treated the patient may visit the facility with the patient to assure proper use of the equipment.
8.5.3 PATIENT EDUCATION MANAGEMENT Educational classes, sessions, or programs may be necessary to reinforce self-management techniques. This may be performed as formal or informal programs, either group or individual.
8.5.4 PSYCHOLOGICAL MANAGEMENT An ideal maintenance program will emphasize management options implemented in the following order: (a) individual self-management (pain control, relaxation and stress management, etc.), (b) group counseling, (c) individual counseling, by a psychologist or psychiatrist, and (d) in-patient treatment. Aggravation of the injury may require psychological treatment to restore the patient to baseline.
8.5.5 NON-NARCOTIC MEDICATION MANAGEMENT In some cases, self-management of pain and injury exacerbations can be handled with medications, such as those listed in the Medication section. Physicians must follow patients who are on any chronic medication or prescription regimen for efficacy and side effects. Laboratory or other testing may be appropriate to monitor medication effects on organ function.
8.5.6 NARCOTIC MEDICATION MANAGEMENT As compared with other pain syndromes, there may be a role for chronic augmentation of the maintenance program with narcotic medications In selected cases, scheduled medications may prove to be the most cost effective means of insuring the highest function and quality of life. A patient should have met the criteria in the opioids section of these guidelines before beginning maintenance narcotics. Laboratory or other testing may be appropriate to monitor medication effects on organ function. The following management is suggested for maintenance narcotics:
8.5.7 THERAPY MANAGEMENT Some treatment may be helpful on a continued basis during maintenance care if the therapy maintains objective function and decreases medication use. Aggravation the injury may require intensive treatment to get the patient back to baseline. In those cases, treatments and time frame parameters listed in the Active and Passive Therapy sections apply.
8.5.9 PURCHASE OR RENTAL OF DURABLE MEDICAL EQUIPMENT It is recognized that some patients may require ongoing use of self-directed modalities for the purpose of maintaining function and/or analgesic effect. Purchase or rental of modality based equipment should be done only if the assessment by the physician and/or therapist has determined the effectiveness, compliance, and improved or maintained function by its application. It is generally felt that large expense purchases such as spas, whirlpools, and special mattresses are not necessary to maintain function beyond the areas listed above.
Last Updated: December 31 1969 19:00:00.
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