I turned 50 years old this year and joined a new group called the Red Hat Society. This is a group of women over 50 out to have fun. Most are 60 or older. Many of them say they've had a rotator cuff repair between ages 50 and 60. Why is this so common?

Tonsils, appendix, wisdom teeth, and rotator cuff. Baby boomers may think these are the required operations in their lifetime. Better health care has reduced the first three operations. Improved technology has probably increased the use of rotator cuff repair surgery.

Living longer, more active lives puts us at increased risk for rotator cuff problems. It has become a much more common problem than ever before. The rotator cuff is made up of four muscles and their tendons as they surround the shoulder.

Problems in this area occur for several reasons. First, there isn't a huge blood supply to the area normally. As we age, the tissues may get even less. Second, the soft tissue structures are easily pinched by the nearby bones and soft tissues from sagging posture. Weakness as we age adds to the problem. Overuse and repetitive use also increase the risk of injury.

You aren't destined to have a rotator cuff injury. In fact a series of simple exercises to strengthen the rotator cuff are available from any orthopedic doctor or physical therapist.