A community survey of identifiable symptomatic shoulder disorders in a sample of 644 elderly people over age 70 (318 male and 326 female) revealed a prevalence of 21%. Shoulder disorders were more common in women (25%, versus 17% in men). Approximately 70% of the cases of shoulder pain involved the rotator cuff. Fewer than 40% of the subjects sought medical attention for these symptoms. Increased medical awareness is needed, since the elderly often do not volunteer information about such symptoms.