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Injured back? Surgery rates vary by location in the U.S.A.

If you're hurt at work and suffer a back injury, you expect to receive the care you need to get well quickly. One of the things you may need is back surgery. A new study has shown that back surgery rates vary across the U.S., though, which may make you wonder if you're really getting the best care and the care you need to recover.

According to the study, back pain is one of the main injuries covered by workers' compensation. Around one-fifth of all work-related injuries are back injuries. The best way to treat these injuries isn't certain, so depending on where you live when you suffer an injury, you could be treated differently than other patients.

For instance, close to 20 percent of people injured in Oklahoma or Tennessee were treated with surgery. In California and Florida, under 10 percent of workers with the same diagnosis received surgery. For people who need surgery, this lack of a surgical intervention could be difficult, but it can also be hard on people who may not have needed it and were offered it prior to trying other methods of recovery.

Part of what influences the surgical route is if the local norm is surgery-intensive. If reimbursement for surgeries is high in the area, then that can also play a role in a doctor ordering a surgery for a patient. If there are a high number of surgeons in your area, then that can also mean you have a better chance of opting for surgery instead of long-term rehabilitation or pain-relief methods.

Source: Claims Journal, "New Study Examines Why Back Surgery Rates Vary Across States," June 26, 2015

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