AARP Eye Center
Whether it’s a tennis swing that causes a sudden tearing sensation in your shoulder or a slip and fall on the ice that leaves you unable to lift your arm, shoulder injuries are a common problem for adults 50 and older, doctors say. That’s largely because of aging-related changes in this body part, sometimes coupled with decades of overuse from work and play.
On the plus side, shoulder specialists say there’s plenty you can do to reduce the risk of injury and maintain function so that you can keep on enjoying your favorite activities and doing everyday tasks.
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Why older shoulders are more at risk
The structure most vulnerable to damage in older shoulders is the rotator cuff, a group of muscles and tendons that surround the joint and keep the head of the upper arm in the shoulder socket.
“Mostly, these are a combination of age-related degeneration, overuse and macro trauma, where someone does something to their shoulder. It’s rare that it’s just an acute injury,” says Gerald R. Williams Jr., M.D., a shoulder specialist at the Philadelphia-based Rothman Orthopaedic Institute.
Fractures of the bones in the shoulder, often caused by falls, are the second-most common type of shoulder injury among 50-plus adults, according to Williams.