Skip to main content

In what the Associated Press describes as "a groundbreaking guideline," the Ohio agency that oversees that state's workers' compensation program has rejected spinal fusion surgery and opioid prescriptions as an early response to back pain. Instead, the state now requires that all workers with work-related back injuries undergo at least 60 days of nonsurgical care, including physical therapy, while avoiding opioids, before pursuing other treatments.

According to an AP article published in The New York Times, Ohio isn't the first state to restrict payments for surgery, but its approach includes a new twist: including a warning on the use of opioids. The Ohio rule stipulates that the 60 days of "alternative" treatment must be accomplished while avoiding opioid use if possible, an approach that NYT says is "more aggressive than other states that also decline to pay right away for the surgery."

In the report, the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation defended the move by citing research showing that spinal fusion surgery is "often ineffective," can lead to complications, and may result in increased opioid use postsurgery. The policy went into effect on January 1.

You Might Also Like...


Workers' Comp Research Group: Early Physical Therapy for LBP Is a Win-Win

Sep 21, 2020

The report, focused on workers' comp recipients, concludes that early physical therapy for LBP improves outcomes and saves money.


TRICARE to Begin Pilot That Waives Cost-Sharing for Physical Therapy for LBP

Jun 30, 2020

The 10-state plan waives cost-sharing for up to three visits to increase uptake of physical therapy.


5 Things PTs and PTAs Need to Know About Naloxone

Jan 27, 2020

One way PTs and PTAs can contribute to public health is by having the medication naloxone available in case of an overdose.