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Chiropractic care is a specialized form of healthcare that focuses on the diagnosis and treatment of musculoskeletal conditions, particularly those affecting the spine. In order for chiropractors to provide effective care to their patients, it is essential that they have a clear understanding of how to navigate the complex world of medical billing and coding. One crucial component of this process is the use of Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) codes.

What are CPT Codes?

CPT codes are a standardized set of medical codes that are used to describe and document medical procedures and services. These codes were developed and are maintained by the American Medical Association (AMA). CPT codes play a vital role in the healthcare industry, as they are used for a variety of purposes, including medical billing, insurance claims, and research.

The Role of CPT Codes in Medical Billing

When it comes to medical billing, accurate coding is essential. CPT codes allow healthcare providers to communicate the specific services they have provided to patients in a way that insurance companies and other payers can understand. This enables providers to be reimbursed for the care they have delivered.

For chiropractors, using the correct CPT codes is crucial for ensuring proper reimbursement for their services. By accurately documenting the procedures performed during a chiropractic visit, providers can avoid claim denials and ensure that they are appropriately compensated for the care they provide.

However, it is important to note that CPT codes are not only used for billing purposes. They also serve as a common language among healthcare professionals, allowing them to communicate effectively and accurately about the procedures and services they provide.

The Structure of CPT Codes

CPT codes have a hierarchical structure that consists of five-digit codes. The first digit identifies the category of service, while the remaining four digits provide more specific details about the procedure or service being described.

In chiropractic care, specific CPT codes are used to describe various procedures and services. These codes can range from spinal manipulation to therapeutic procedures.

For example, one commonly used CPT code in chiropractic care is 98940, which represents chiropractic manipulative treatment of the spine for one to two regions. This code helps healthcare providers accurately describe the specific treatment provided to the patient, allowing for proper documentation and billing.

It is worth mentioning that CPT codes are regularly updated and revised by the AMA to reflect changes in medical practices and advancements in technology. This ensures that healthcare providers have access to the most accurate and up-to-date codes for documenting and billing their services.

Overall, CPT codes are an essential tool in the healthcare industry, enabling accurate communication, proper reimbursement, and effective documentation of medical procedures and services. Their standardized nature ensures consistency and clarity across healthcare settings, benefiting both healthcare providers and patients alike.

Importance of CPT Codes in Chiropractic Care

The use of CPT codes in chiropractic care goes beyond just billing and reimbursement. These codes also play a crucial role in facilitating accurate record keeping and ensuring the continuity of care for patients.

Chiropractic care is a specialized form of healthcare that focuses on the diagnosis and treatment of musculoskeletal disorders, particularly those affecting the spine. Chiropractors use various techniques, such as spinal manipulations, to alleviate pain and improve the overall well-being of their patients.

Ensuring Proper Reimbursement

One of the main reasons why accurate coding with CPT codes is so important in chiropractic care is because it directly affects reimbursement. By correctly coding procedures, providers can maximize their reimbursement and avoid potential financial losses.

For example, if a chiropractor fails to assign the appropriate CPT code for a spinal manipulation, they may end up being reimbursed at a lower rate or even not being reimbursed at all. This can significantly impact the financial viability of their practice.

Furthermore, accurate coding also ensures that insurance companies and other payers have a clear understanding of the services provided. This helps prevent any misunderstandings or disputes regarding reimbursement, ultimately benefiting both the chiropractor and the patient.

Facilitating Accurate Record Keeping

In addition to reimbursement, CPT codes also serve as a tool for accurate record keeping in chiropractic care. By using specific codes to document the procedures performed during a visit, chiropractors can easily reference the services provided to a patient during previous visits.

This becomes especially important when it comes to monitoring and tracking patient progress over time. By having a clear record of the procedures performed, chiropractors can make informed decisions about the course of treatment and assess the effectiveness of the care being provided.

Accurate record keeping also allows chiropractors to maintain comprehensive patient histories. This is particularly valuable when treating chronic conditions or providing long-term care. By having detailed records of previous treatments, chiropractors can tailor their approach to each patient’s specific needs and ensure that the care provided is consistent and effective.

Moreover, accurate record keeping with CPT codes enables effective communication and collaboration among healthcare providers. When referring a patient to another specialist or coordinating care with other healthcare professionals, having a standardized coding system ensures that everyone involved has a clear understanding of the procedures performed and the treatment received.

Overall, the use of CPT codes in chiropractic care is essential for accurate billing, reimbursement, and record keeping. By diligently assigning the appropriate codes, chiropractors can optimize their practice’s financial health, provide high-quality care, and ensure the best outcomes for their patients.

Common CPT Codes in Chiropractic Care

In chiropractic care, several common CPT codes are frequently used to describe the services provided. These codes help to classify and document specific procedures, allowing for accurate billing and record-keeping. Let’s explore some of the most commonly used CPT codes in chiropractic care in more detail.

Codes for Spinal Manipulation

Spinal manipulations, also known as chiropractic adjustments, are one of the most common procedures performed by chiropractors. These adjustments involve applying controlled force to the spine, aiming to restore joint mobility and alleviate pain. Several CPT codes are used to describe these manipulations, depending on factors such as the number of spinal regions adjusted and the technique used.

For example, CPT code 98940 is used to describe chiropractic manipulative treatment involving the spine. This code is used when a chiropractor performs spinal adjustments on one or two regions of the spine. On the other hand, code 98941 is used for manipulations involving the spine and extremities. This code is used when a chiropractor performs spinal adjustments along with adjustments to the extremities, such as the arms or legs.

It is important for chiropractors to accurately report the CPT codes for spinal manipulations to ensure proper billing and record-keeping. By using the appropriate code, insurance companies and other healthcare providers can easily understand the nature of the services provided.

Codes for Therapeutic Procedures

In addition to manipulations, chiropractors may also use therapeutic procedures to complement their treatments. These procedures can include modalities such as electrical stimulation, ultrasound therapy, and therapeutic exercises.

Electrical stimulation is a common therapeutic modality used in chiropractic care. It involves the application of electrical currents to stimulate nerves and muscles, aiding in pain relief and muscle relaxation. To document this procedure accurately, chiropractors use CPT code 97014.

Therapeutic exercises are another important component of chiropractic care. These exercises aim to improve strength, flexibility, and range of motion. Chiropractors use specific CPT codes to describe therapeutic exercises based on the nature and intensity of the exercises performed. For example, code 97110 is used for therapeutic exercises that focus on strengthening and conditioning.

By assigning the appropriate CPT codes to therapeutic procedures, chiropractors can ensure accurate documentation and reimbursement. These codes provide a standardized way to communicate the type and extent of therapeutic procedures performed.

Overall, CPT codes play a crucial role in chiropractic care by facilitating accurate billing, record-keeping, and communication between healthcare providers. Understanding and utilizing these codes correctly is essential for chiropractors to provide quality care and ensure proper reimbursement for their services.

How to Use CPT Codes in Chiropractic Care

Using CPT codes effectively in chiropractic care requires a thorough understanding of the coding process and a commitment to accuracy. By following a few key steps, chiropractors can ensure that they are using CPT codes correctly.

Understanding the Coding Process

Before assigning CPT codes, chiropractors must first document the specific procedures and services provided during a visit. This includes recording details such as the number of spinal regions adjusted, the techniques used, and any additional therapeutic procedures performed.

Once this information is documented, chiropractors can then reference the CPT code manual to identify the appropriate codes for the services rendered. It is essential to select the most accurate code that best represents the specific procedures performed.

Tips for Accurate Coding

Accurate coding requires attention to detail and knowledge of the specific coding guidelines for chiropractic care. Here are some tips to help chiropractors improve their coding accuracy:

  1. Stay up-to-date with coding changes: The world of medical coding is constantly evolving, and it is important for chiropractors to stay informed about any changes or updates to the CPT code set.
  2. Seek coding education and training: Chiropractors can benefit from participating in coding courses or workshops to ensure they have a comprehensive understanding of coding principles and best practices.
  3. Use coding resources: Utilize coding resources such as coding manuals or software tools that provide guidance and help ensure accurate code selection.
  4. Regularly review and audit coding practices: Periodically reviewing and auditing coding practices can help identify any errors or areas for improvement, allowing chiropractors to make necessary adjustments and ensure coding accuracy.

Challenges and Solutions in Chiropractic Coding

While the use of CPT codes is essential in chiropractic coding, it can present certain challenges for chiropractors. By being aware of these challenges and implementing effective solutions, chiropractors can overcome coding-related obstacles and ensure accurate documentation.

Common Coding Errors to Avoid

One of the biggest challenges in chiropractic coding is avoiding common coding errors that can lead to claim denials or incorrect reimbursement. Some of the most common coding errors to avoid include:

  • Incorrect code selection: Selecting the wrong CPT code for a procedure or service can lead to claim denials or underpayment.
  • Incomplete documentation: Inadequate documentation can make it difficult to assign the correct CPT code and may result in claim denials or delays.
  • Failure to document medical necessity: Without proper documentation of medical necessity, insurance companies may question the need for certain procedures, leading to claim denials or delays.

Overcoming Challenges in Chiropractic Coding

To overcome the challenges associated with chiropractic coding, chiropractors can implement the following strategies:

  1. Continuing education and training: Staying updated on coding guidelines and participating in ongoing education helps chiropractors improve their coding accuracy and stay informed about any changes or updates in the coding process.
  2. Thorough documentation: Taking the time to thoroughly document the procedures performed and the medical necessity of these procedures ensures accurate code selection and reduces the risk of claim denials.
  3. Utilizing technology: Using electronic health record (EHR) systems or coding software can streamline the coding process and provide chiropractors with built-in coding resources and guidelines.
  4. Regular audits and reviews: Conducting regular audits of coding practices helps identify any errors or areas for improvement, allowing chiropractors to make necessary adjustments and ensure compliance with coding guidelines.

By implementing these strategies, chiropractors can overcome the challenges associated with chiropractic coding and ensure accurate documentation, proper reimbursement, and high-quality patient care.


In the world of chiropractic care, understanding how to navigate the complexities of medical billing and coding is vital for providing effective care and ensuring proper reimbursement. CPT codes play a central role in this process, allowing chiropractors to accurately document and communicate the procedures they perform.

By familiarizing themselves with the structure and use of CPT codes, chiropractors can ensure accurate coding and billing, facilitate accurate record keeping, and overcome coding-related challenges. With a commitment to staying updated on coding guidelines and following best practices, chiropractors can maximize reimbursement, avoid claim denials, and provide top-quality care for their patients.