Back problems for women grow worse with advanced age, while men seem to suffer less as they grow older, according to a Chicago orthopedist.

"Males experience the most back pain between ages 15 and 55, with pain lessening after age 55. The opposite is true for women," says Dr. Gunnar B. Andersson, professor and co-chairman, department of orthopedics, Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke's Medical Center in Chicago.Andersson is studying back problems in research supported by a grant from the Bristol-Myers Squibb Co.

"Men may subject their bodies to less physical stress as they get older," Andersson says, "either because they have been promoted to less physically demanding jobs, or they retire. Women, on the other hand, often continue physically demanding work, such as household chores, even into old age."