Military service can be tough on your body. Deployments, battle loads and physical fitness training can lead to lower back pain and other chronic issues.
Tricare doesn’t always cover chiropractic care for active duty service members or their families, and access at military hospitals is limited. Tricare’s website lists chiropractic services at only 60 of 422 military health facilities, and the wait for an appointment is often long.
So if you’re a military member who wants chiropractic care, you might have to pay out of pocket.
Luckily, there are some affordable options.
Affordable Chiropractic Chain to Open New Clinics at Military Installations
In February 2021, the Army and Air Force Exchange Service announced that more wellness services would be arriving in 2021, including the addition of chiropractic offices at select shopping centers.
An AAFES agreement with The Joint Corp., a national provider of chiropractic care, opened the door for locations at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida, and Luke Air Force Base in Phoenix, Arizona, among others.
AAFES said it plans to eventually add chiropractic offices to all its Exchange shopping centers in the United States over the next few years.
The Joint Chiropractic walk-in offices offer special military discounts to service members and their families.
Your first appointment, including a consultation, exam and an adjustment will cost $19. Military members also receive a discount on monthly wellness packages.
At the military rate, a wellness plan that includes four monthly visits costs $59 per month.
Military members, veterans and families who live far from military bases can still take advantage of the special pricing at one of 650 The Joint Chiropractic locations.
Other Affordable Chiropractic Care Options
Chiropractic memberships like Chiro Health USA or Chiropractic Lifecare of America can help offset the cost for some. You pay an annual fee to join and are then eligible for discounts with chiropractors in their network. Chiropractic care can help relieve pain and increase motion in joints, including your back and neck, and keep your body feeling good, without the use of opioids or other medications.
If you’re a veteran, then you may be able access services either at a VA facility or through a community provider, if you have a referral from your regular doctor.
Does Tricare Cover Chiropractic Care?
Tricare doesn’t cover chiropractic care for most active-duty service members or their families. Some active-duty members, including activated members of the National Guard or Reserve, may qualify for Tricare’s chiropractic health care program.
There are some significant limitations to the Tricare program. You must be referred by your primary care manager, who also decides how long and how often you can receive treatments. In addition, the chiropractor must practice at a designated military hospital or clinic – and only 60 of 422 military health services facilities in the U.S. (49 hospitals and 373 clinics) have chiropractic care available.
Does Chiropractic Care Work?
Whether or not chiropractic care works has been a multimillion-dollar question, and the Department of Defense has been trying to answer it for decades. According to the final report to Congressional Defense Committees: Chiropractic Clinical Trials, the DOD has authorized several studies since 1985 to determine whether chiropractic care is effective and whether providing it as a benefit to service members is feasible. The findings have generally been positive.
The results of a recent $7.5 million study, completed by RAND Corporation, were released in September 2019. The study examined how service members with lower back pain performed on several fitness measures after chiropractic care.
Researchers found a significant difference between those who received chiropractic treatments and the control group, which did not. Those receiving chiropractic care had a 5% increase in isometric strength, compared with a 6% decrease in the control group. Endurance increased by 14%, while it decreased by 10% in the control group. Balance increased 28%, while the control group had no change.