WYNNEWOOD, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- Today's seniors are determined to stay active, but time and hard work take a toll on the joints.
Lois Hayman-El, 70, had surgery on her right shoulder a dozen years ago. When the left one started hurting last year, it wasn't the nagging ache she remembered.
"It was sharp pain, stabbing," she said.
It turns out both were rotator cuff injuries.
"The rotator cuff is just a group of four muscles," said Dr. Christopher Kester from Main Line Health.
Dr. Kester says it's one of the most common orthopedic injuries, with about three million new cases a year.
"On the MRI, we're looking for this tendon being torn off the bone on top of the ball," he said.
That tear kept Lois from reaching above her head.
"When I had to reach for things on shelves, when I had to even pick up groceries, that was beginning to be difficult," Lois recalled.
The pain also woke her up at night.
"I was being very sleep-deprived and so that made it very difficult because I was working from home," she said.
Lois is a full-time trainer for the Philadelphia Corporation for Aging.
Dr. Kester says most patients are between 40 and 70 years of age, with the damage often due to sports or jobs with overhead motions, such as warehouse workers.
Age itself also wears tendons down. Physical therapy, sometimes with cortisone injections, give many patients relief. Some, like Lois, need surgery.
"It's arthroscopic, minimally invasive - so a few poke holes around the shoulder and everything's done through a camera and little instruments that go through the hole," said Dr. Kester.
About six months of physical therapy is needed to regain mobility and strength. Lois says it was well worth it.
"It has been really wonderful to get my range of motion back and to get it able to stretch, do things, put clothes on without difficulty, and wash my back without difficulty," she said.