Shoulder Pain in the Elderly

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Normal shoulder function is essential for many activities of daily living; impairment in this has huge consequences to quality of life. The prevalence of shoulder disorders in the older population is 21%, with it being more common in women (25%) than men (17%)1.

active_seniorsThe most common cause of shoulder pain in the older population is due to soft tissue injuries 1. These include frozen shoulder, subacromial impingement, rotator cuff tendinopathy or rupture, and acromioclavicular joint osteoarthritis. The pain may also be caused by glenohumeral osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis, due to the degeneration and, or destruction of the joint. In addition, pain may be referred, from in particular, the cervical spine.

Treating shoulder pain involves identifying its source and cause. Many of the conditions named above respond well to simple medical intervention and therefore helping to improve quality of life.


1. Aging Health. October 2009, Vol. 5, No. 5, Pages 711-718.

Dr Sophie Armstrong
Registrar in Sport and Exercise Medicine