Falls are a major source of shoulder injury, Elizabeth Tracey reports


Shoulder pain ranks right up there with back and neck pain, accounting for many visits to physicians. Edward McFarland, head of shoulder surgery at Johns Hopkins, says it’s almost always the tendons around the shoulder known as the rotator cuff that are the root of the problem, and these are easily injured with falls.

McFarland: How do tendons fail? There’s two ways. One is you fall and the tension from the fall causes the tendon to pull off of the bone. This is usually a major trauma as a result because people's tendons are fairly good until you get 30 or 40, they tend to not have rotator cuff tear so we don't really even start to see rotator cuff tears until people are in their 40s and 50s and 60s. And the reason for that is the tendons gradually start to wear out and get thinner and thinner. Over time they start to fray they literally look like threads of a rope hanging down and that's called a partial tear.         :32

McFarland says many people live with partial tears with no activity compromise. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.