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Ohio study points out limitations of back surgeries

Ohio's workers' compensation system is a benefit for both the employers who supply the coverage and the employees who are covered in the event of workplace injuries. Many of these on-the-job injuries result in back pain.

For back injuries in particular, learning about recovery and related procedures is key to becoming pain-free and returning to work as quickly as possible. Back pain is a very common health concern in the U.S. Almost 80 percent of the population has suffered some sort of back condition during their lives. And as it stands, back surgery is a commonly selected treatment for back pain. But surgery may not be the best course of action.

One expert found that as many as 70 percent of back surgeries aren't successful in treating the pain. This is big news for workers' compensation claimants. According to another study, which analyzed patients in the database of the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation, 50 percent of the patients on disability underwent back surgery, while the other half abstained. Of the half that had surgery, only around one-fourth returned to work. Even worse, for those that had surgery, the study saw a 41 percent increase in the use of painkillers.

The study suggests that in many cases back surgery is ineffective and avoidable. But there are other options for employees who want to recover quickly and get back to work. Employees shouldn't stick with a treatment that is ineffective after three months. Employees should also take the pain seriously instead of ignoring it until it's unbearable. By waiting, an employee may only be worsening the condition. Employees should also try to find the cause of the pain instead of superficially treating the pain symptoms. By listening to their bodies and being informed about the best courses of treatment, employees ay be able to recover from back pain without unnecessary surgery and return to work more quickly.

Source: Michigan Chronicle, "7 Mistakes Nearly All Back-Pain Sufferers Make Expert Debunks Common Myths," June 25, 2013

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