News Health/Medical Chronic Musculoskeletal Pain Linked to Earlier Retirement
Human musculoskeletal system

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Chronic Musculoskeletal Pain Linked to Earlier Retirement

Frequent musculoskeletal pain is associated with an increased risk of leaving the workforce and retiring earlier, according to a recent study published in the open-access journal PLoS ONE. The research sheds light on the effects of chronic pain on older populations' employment status.

Study Details

The study, conducted by Nils Niederstrasser and colleagues from the University of Portsmouth, UK, analyzed data from 1,156 individuals aged 50 and above participating in the English Longitudinal Study of Aging. Over a 14-year period, 1,073 of these individuals retired.

Key Findings

The researchers discovered that:

  • People with more musculoskeletal pain complaints tended to retire earlier compared to pain-free participants (HR = 1.30, CI = 1.12–1.49).
  • Participants suffering from musculoskeletal pain were 1.25 times more likely to cease work sooner (CI = 1.10–1.43), regardless of whether they described themselves as retired.
  • Other factors influencing earlier retirement included higher work dissatisfaction and self-perceived social status.


The study highlights that pain experiences significantly impact work outcomes. Chronic musculoskeletal pain can lead to earlier retirement, rivaling or even surpassing the influence of job satisfaction and specific job demands. It underscores the far-reaching effects of pain on various aspects of individuals' lives.

Further Research

Future research should delve into the mechanisms and decision-making processes involved in leaving the workforce for individuals experiencing frequent musculoskeletal pain.

It is remarkable that pain predicts earlier retirement and work cessation to a similar extent or even more strongly than other variables. It shows just how much impact pain can have on all aspects of people's lives.

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