Does age make a difference in whether people with back injuries can return to work?

Yes. A recent study showed that, even when patients had the same nonsurgical treatment, younger workers were much more likely to return to work after a back injury than older workers. One year after treatment, all of the patients under age 25 had gone back to work. Meanwhile, only 69 percent of patients 55 and older had returned to work.

Researchers believe that older workers are less likely to go back to work because older bodies have a harder time recovering from injuries. Older workers may have pain longer than younger workers. Also, it may be easier for older workers to get disability benefits. This might make them less inclined to go back to work.