50 year old Shoulder

joint Sep 24, 2020

Have you heard about the 50-year-old shoulder?

Shoulder complaints at this stage of life are so common they have been given this nickname. The most common issues are frozen shoulder and rotator cuff disease. So let's discuss what is happening around your midlife to make this such a common time for these shoulder problems to occur.


Like everything to do with health, it is a multifactorial problem. the more risk factors you have the more likely it is you will also develop shoulder pain.


Risk factors include:

  • Lower hormonal status. Shoulder issues definitely increase with menopause due to lower estrogen levels. It's one of the primary symptoms in certain parts of the world. Take Japan as an example, its more common to have a shoulder issue than it is to have a hot flush!
  • Loss of collagen. Most women know bone mass decreases with age but not many realise that their collagen levels also decrease. Collagen is a structural component of your body, it acts like a glue to keep everything in place. Your collagen loss starts to accelerate in a women's '40s and by 50 that amount of collagen loss can cause structural weakness and this increases the risk of damage.
  • Having a history of falls or previous injuries to the neck, shoulder, or elbow.
  • There is a strong link between blood sugar disorders and shoulder issues.  Roughly 30% of diabetics have a shoulder disorder, add being a female and midlife and this number significantly rises.
  • Women with thyroid disease are more likely to develop shoulder issues and the same can be said the other way around. The common thread between the 2 conditions in inflammation.
  • Having any autoimmune diagnoses increases your risk, did you know one school of thought it that frozen shoulder is itself an auto-immune disease? It is possible to have an infection in the shoulder capsule, surgery is the most common way but not the only way for this to occur. Propionibacterium acnes is the most common culprit.  If there is an infection present, the immune system will start to attack and this could be the start of an auto-immune response within the shoulder.
  • Shoulder immobilisation is another trigger. 
  • Being a smoker
  • Having chronic low-grade inflammation
  • Obesity has a link with rotator cuff disease.


Enough of the bad news, let's talk about prevention and repair.

It's vitally important to reduce inflammation! This starts with your diet. Cut processed, sugary foods out, and focus on eating fresh fruit, vegetables, and salads. Add in heaps of beneficial fats, eat adequate animal protein, and lots of bone broth. Spice things up by adding turmeric, ginger, garlic, saffron into as many dishes as possible.


Essential supplements include:

  • Fish oil - to help lubrication from the inside out, and it's also anti-inflammatory
  • Collagen - to stabilise and rebuild your connective tissues
  • Turmeric or Boswellia based herbal medicines for extra help reducing your inflammation


Manual therapy is a must! Choose at least one from the list below. See what is available in your local area.

  • Chiropractic/ Osteopathy
  • Acupuncture
  • Physical therapy, PT, Exercise physiology 


It goes without staying that if you have a concomitant health condition (as discussed above) this health condition must also be addressed for best results.


If you are struggling with your menopausal transition and need help getting on top of its associated symptoms like shoulder pain, please do not hesitate to reach out. We are here to help. WORK WITH US


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