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Stephen O'Connor

By: Stephen O'Connor on March 26th, 2024

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Pain Management Coding: CPT Codes and Best Practices

Medical Billing / RCM

Pain management encompasses a diverse array of treatments tailored to the specific disease or disorder, the type and location of pain, and the individual patient's needs. Coding these procedures accurately requires a solid understanding of medical terminology, coding guidelines, and familiarity with the nuances of pain management CPT codes. In this guide, we'll explore various aspects of pain management coding, including category codes, updates for 2024, common CPT codes, chronic care management, complex care management, and best practices for accurate coding.


Category Codes

To effectively code pain management procedures, it's essential to grasp the basic framework of CPT codes. These codes are categorized into three main categories:

  • Category I Codes

These codes correspond to specific procedures or services, including devices, drugs, and vaccines.

Examples include 20604 for Arthrocentesis and 64405 for Greater occipital block.

  • Category II Codes

These are optional tracking codes used for performance measurement, not required for coding.

Example: 0521F for Plan of care to address pain documented.

  • Category III Codes

Temporary codes for emerging technology, procedures, and services, primarily for data purposes.

Example: 0095T for Removal of total disc arthroplasty.


2024 Coding Updates

In 2024, a new CPT code has been introduced in the Musculoskeletal system for Arthrodesis of the sacroiliac joint, with specific guidance on the procedure and implantation.


Frequent Pain Management Procedure Codes


In the realm of chronic care, certain CPT codes are commonly utilized for pain management. Many therapeutic interventions involve the precise administration of medication into specific anatomical sites, such as joints, tendons, or nerves. These injections target areas like the shoulder or elbow for enhanced precision and efficacy.


  • Trigger Point Injections: Trigger point injections, also known as injections into tendon sheaths or ligaments, are employed to alleviate painful knots within muscles. These knots, termed trigger points, often develop due to muscle tension or injury.



Carpal tunnel syndrome (G56.00) frequently warrants steroid injections for relief.

Therapeutic injection (20526) involves administering substances like anesthetics or corticosteroids to alleviate carpal tunnel symptoms.


  • Joint Aspiration: Joint aspiration involves inserting a needle through the skin into a joint or bursa to withdraw fluid. In contrast, joint injections deliver therapeutic agents directly into the joint to address various conditions, typically without ultrasound guidance.



Osteoarthritis (M19.90) commonly benefits from this procedure.

Major joint or bursa aspiration/injection (20610) is often performed to manage osteoarthritis.


  • Nerve Blocks: Nerve blocks entail the precise administration of anesthetic and/or steroid medication in proximity to a nerve to numb the corresponding area. Conditions like occipital neuralgia frequently necessitate this intervention for pain relief.



Greater occipital neuralgia (M54.81) manifests as intense headaches stemming from nerve trauma at the back of the head or cervicogenic origins.

Greater occipital nerve block (64405) involves injecting anesthetic and/or steroid agents to alleviate occipital neuralgia symptoms.


Chronic Care Management


Chronic care management (CCM) services encompass non-face-to-face care provided to Medicare beneficiaries dealing with two or more chronic conditions anticipated to persist for at least 12 months or until the patient's passing. However, it's crucial to note that CPT guidance might differ from payer reporting guidelines, underscoring the importance of verifying each payer’s policies.


Prior to initiating CCM services, an initial visit such as a "comprehensive" evaluation and management (E/M) visit, annual wellness visit (AWV), or initial preventive physical exam (IPPE) is necessary for new patients or those not seen within the past year.


Over the past year, notable changes have been implemented for chronic pain management (CPM), which became effective in January 2023. These changes include the addition of two new HCPCS management codes, namely G3002 and G3003. Physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, or eligible qualified healthcare professionals can bill for these services.


CMS acknowledges that HCPCS codes G3002 and G3003 represent distinct entities from other care management services like Chronic Care Management. The new chronic pain management and treatment codes resemble the currently billed chronic care management codes. CPM encompasses all services conducted monthly to aid patients in pain management.


Specialty providers outside of pain management and primary care providers focusing on long-term pain management can report CPM codes. Additionally, these codes can be billed alongside an office visit, though the time for each code cannot be combined. Documentation for each code should align with Medicare requirements, varying based on patient specifics.


The code descriptors for G3002 and G3003 are outlined as follows:




Definition: Chronic pain management and treatment, monthly bundle including diagnosis; assessment and monitoring; administration of a validated pain rating scale or tool; the development, implementation, revision, and/or maintenance of a person-centered care plan that includes strengths, goals, clinical needs, and desired outcomes; overall treatment management; facilitation and coordination of any necessary behavioral health treatment; medication management; pain and health literacy counseling; any necessary chronic pain related crisis care; and ongoing communication and care coordination between relevant practitioners furnishing care, e.g. physical therapy and occupational therapy, complementary and integrative approaches, and community-based care, as appropriate.

Requirements: Required initial face-to-face visit of at least 30 minutes provided by a physician or other qualified health professional; first 30 minutes



Definition: Each additional 15 minutes of chronic pain management and treatment by a physician or other qualified healthcare professional, per calendar month (listed separately in addition to code for G3002). When using G3003, 15 minutes must be met or exceeded.

Complex Care Management (CCM)


Complex Care Management (CCM differs from standard CCM in several key aspects. Alongside the requisite elements of standard CCM, complex care management necessitates a minimum of 60 minutes of care provision and entails moderate to high levels of decision-making.


Common conditions often billed alongside CCM codes encompass a range of chronic ailments such as Alzheimer’s disease, arthritis, asthma, atrial fibrillation, autism spectrum disorders, cancer, cardiovascular disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), depression, diabetes, hypertension, and infectious diseases like HIV/AIDS.


Chronic Pain management is coded using 99490-99491, whereas complex care services are represented by codes 99487-99489, each with specific criteria:


99490: Requires a minimum of 20 minutes of clinical staff time monthly, directed by a qualified healthcare professional, addressing multiple chronic conditions posing significant risk to the patient.


99491: Involves at least 30 minutes of direct physician or qualified healthcare professional time monthly, addressing similar chronic conditions and risks.

In 2020, Medicare introduced HCPCS Code G2058 to supplement 99490, denoting an additional 20 minutes of work. Furthermore, providers conducting thorough assessments beyond standard requirements may bill the add-on HCPCS code G0506 once, alongside the initial visit. Time spent on CCM services cannot be counted towards other billed codes.


Complex Care Management Codes include:


CPT code 99487: A 60-minute service provided by clinical staff, focusing on establishing or substantially revising comprehensive care plans involving moderate to high-complexity medical decision-making.


CPT code 99489: Represents each additional 30 minutes of clinical staff time spent on complex CCM under the direction of a qualified healthcare professional. This is billed in conjunction with 99487 but cannot be billed alongside 99490.

Accurate code selection heavily relies on thorough provider documentation. Unclear or incomplete documentation may hinder coding accuracy, necessitating clarification through provider queries. Maximizing reimbursement requires capturing all relevant encounter codes.

In conclusion, accurate coding of pain management procedures is indispensable for healthcare practices seeking seamless billing processes and fair reimbursement. As professionals strive to maintain compliance and provide top-notch care, resources like ADSC's pain management billing services become invaluable. Leveraging such specialized services not only streamlines billing operations but also ensures adherence to coding regulations and maximizes revenue potential. With ADSC's expertise, healthcare providers can navigate the intricate landscape of pain management billing with confidence, optimizing both patient care and financial sustainability.

About Stephen O'Connor

Stephen O'Connor is the Director of Brand and Digital Marketing, responsible for many aspects of Advanced Data Systems Corporation’s (ADS) marketing, including product marketing, customer acquisition, demand generation, brand, brand design, and content marketing.

Stephen has more than 20 years of healthcare industry experience. Prior to ADS, Stephen spent 11 years at Medical Resources Inc. (MRI), most recently as the Manager of Marketing & Internet Services, where he and his teams were responsible for all marketing efforts and the market positioning of MRI’s services.

Stephen spends his day's planning, writing, & designing resources for the modern healthcare professional.