Athletic Treatments: FSA Eligibility

Athletic Treatments: eligible with a Flexible Spending Account (FSA)
Athletic treatments, such as braces, bandages, etc., are eligible for reimbursement with a flexible spending account (FSA), health savings account (HSA) or a health reimbursement arrangement (HRA). Athletic treatments are not eligible for reimbursement with a limited-purpose flexible spending account (LPFSA) or a dependent care flexible spending account (DCFSA).

Under IRC 213(d)(1), "medical care includes amounts paid for the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease, or for the purpose of affecting any structure or function of the body." This includes medical equipment, supplies and devices.

No prescription required.

What are athletic treatments?

For many athletes, amateur or professional alike, the idea of a muscle sprain or aching joint slowing down their routines is a non-starter, so finding ways to work around the injury and maintain their physical activity levels is a must. As such, countless athletic treatments have been developed to allow active individuals to treat immediate injuries without compromising their physical fitness goals.

How do athletic treatments alleviate injuries?

Many doctors recommend the "RICE" approach in treating injuries, which refers to Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation. Athletic treatments seamlessly into this approach by first stabilizing the affected area to prevent further strain, and providing compression therapy to prevent inflammation by compressing and supporting underlying tissue. Here's how the technique works via WebMD:

  • Rest: Athletic treatments can immobilize joints and sore muscles when performing day-to-day activities, but periods of rest should also be incorporated to promote recovery.
  • Ice: Ice packs (which are also FSA/HSA/HRA eligible) are a proven method in reducing inflammation and pain that arise after sprains or muscle pulls, and it should be applied continuously for 3-4 days after the injury occurs.
  • Compression: Athletic treatments also provide a degree of compression therapy to aid in the reduction of swelling and bruising by improving blood flow. These recovery aids should be worn for 1-2 weeks after the injury occurs to prevent further injury and to speed recovery times.
  • Elevation: In the immediate aftermath of an injury, make an effort to elevate the affected area above heart level for at least 2 to 3 hours each day. This will help reduce swelling and bruising over time.

Examining the most popular athletic treatments

Some of the most common athletic bandages and braces on the market can treat a wide range of muscle, joint and soft tissue injuries. These include:

  • Kinesiology Tape: This elastic tape is designed to treat musculoskeletal or sports injuries by limiting an individual's range of motion and constrict muscle movement to promote a speedy recovery.
  • Abdominal Supports & Rib Belts: Abdominal supports can be used to provide back support, relief from hernias and stabilization for the lumbar area. Rib belts are used to help individuals recover from rib fractures and prevent re-injury.
  • Orthopedic & Surgical Support: Arm slings, neck collars, back supports and much more are designed to immobilize and prevent re-injury as a result of an immediate injury or to recover from a recent surgery.
  • Elastic Bandages & Athletic Treatments: ACE Bandages, self-adhesive bandages and other products provide compression therapy to treat sprains, strains and general soreness that result from physical activity.
  • Knee/Ankle/Wrist Braces: These braces are the primary means of treating ankle sprains, soft tissue injuries and ligament tears that result from accidents, sports injuries and other forms of overexertion. Immobilizing the affected area is the primary means of rehabilitating and decreasing recovery time from injuries.

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