If you suffer from debilitating pain caused by injury or illness, your physician may turn to heat therapy to ease your discomfort. This technique applies warmth to specific parts of the body to reduce inflammation and decrease stiffness in the joints and muscles. It also improves blood circulation and flow to that specific part of the body, which can hasten the healing process. It's often used on people suffering from osteoporosis, diabetic peripheral neuropathy, severe neck pain and chronic non-healing wounds.

There are a variety of different types of heat therapy methods, including standard electrical heating pads, disposable chemical heating pads and hot water bottles. A more experimental piece of equipment is the infrared heating pad system. This device uses a mechanism to generate infrared light that penetrates deep into the tissue for maximum therapeutic relief.

What are infrared heating pad system replacement pads?
An infrared heating pad system is comprised of a power supply that runs the mechanism as well as a pad that contains the mechanism and distributes the heat. Over time, these pads can wear down or acquire holes, which can cause burns. That's why it's important to inspect the pad regularly and replace it as necessary.

Does Medicare cover replacement pads?
Replacement pads, as well as the infrared heating pad systems themselves, are only covered by Medicare in select locations. Each jurisdiction's Durable Medical Equipment Medicare Administrative Contractor determines if the device is medically necessary. Unfortunately, many have found that the infrared heating technology is no more effective than standard electrical heating pads.

How do I qualify?
Eligibility for coverage of replacement pads relies on where you live. If you live in an area that allows for coverage, your physician, who must be approved by Medicare, has to determine that an infrared heating pad system is medically necessary for recovery from an injury or illness. You may then be eligible to receive a maximum number of replacement pads each year, depending on the limitations set by your insurance plan.

How much will they cost?
If you qualify for coverage, Medicare Part B will take care of 80 percent of the cost of your replacement pads. You are responsible for paying for the remaining 20 percent.

Where do I get them?
Replacement pads for infrared heating pad systems are generally only available through durable medical equipment manufacturers. You may have to order the replacement pad through the company that manufactured your system. Be sure to select a provider that is approved by and accepts assignment from Medicare.