Calcific Tendonitis In Shoulder

What is calcific tendonitis in shoulder, and how is it treated?

There are many reasons why you may develop shoulder pain. Calcium deposits that have built up in your shoulder may be the source of your pain. Schedule an appointment today with our board-certified experts at OrthoNeuro in the Greater Columbus area to see if this is the root cause of your discomfort and to receive high-quality treatment!

Calcific Tendonitis of the Shoulder

Calcific tendonitis (also referred to as calcific tendinitis) occurs when there is a buildup of calcium (calcium deposits) in your tendons. Calcium deposits can accumulate in one location, or they can develop in several locations. These deposits can increase in size, and if irritated, you may feel severe pain.

While calcific tendonitis can form anywhere in your body, it generally affects the shoulder, specifically your rotator cuff tendons. Out of all your rotator cuff tendons, a calcium deposit is most likely to form on your supraspinatus tendon.

The three stages of calcific tendonitis include:

  1. Pre-calcific stage
  2. Calcific stage
  3. Post-calcific stage

What Causes Calcific Tendonitis?

Researchers and medical experts are unsure why some develop painful calcium deposits while others do not. However, aging and severe wear and tear can lead to the development of calcific deposits.

What Are the Risks of Calcific Tendonitis of the Shoulder?

While calcific tendonitis of the shoulder can happen to anyone, there are some factors that can increase your risk of developing a calcific deposit. These risks include:

  • Being between 40 and 60 years old.
  • Being female. Women tend to be slightly more affected by this condition than men.

If you develop calcific tendonitis, you may experience the following symptoms:

  • Mild to moderate pain
  • Sudden onset or acute severe pain (intense) that can be felt down the side of your upper arm
  • Stiffness in your shoulder joint/reduced range of motion
  • Intense/severe pain when moving your shoulder
  • Rotator cuff tenderness
  • Pain that interferes with your sleep

How Is Calcific Tendonitis Diagnosed?

To make an accurate diagnosis of calcific tendonitis, your doctor will:

  • Examine your shoulder, looking for any changes in your range of motion
  • Ask you to provide a detailed explanation of the symptoms you are experiencing
  • Thoroughly review your medical history

Additionally, the following imaging tests may be ordered to confirm the diagnosis:

  • X-rays
  • Ultrasound
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)

You may be wondering, “Can calcific tendonitis go away without our medical treatment?” In most cases, it will eventually go away without medical treatment. However, without receiving treatment, additional complications, such as frozen shoulder, may arise.

Calcific Tendonitis Treatment Options

You may find comfort in knowing that most cases of calcific tendonitis can be treated with non-invasive treatments.  For example, during the formative and resting phases (when you have no pain or pain that is mild in severity), sometimes over-the-counter medication may be all that is needed to provide pain relief.

Other conservative treatments that can be used include:

  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • Steroid injections
  • Physical therapy/sports physical therapy

There are other calcific tendonitis treatment techniques that can also help reduce pain, including:

  • Extracorporeal shockwave therapy (ESWT)
  • Radial shockwave therapy (RSWT)
  • Lavage treatment 
  • Therapeutic ultrasound 

If you still have pain despite conservative methods, your doctor may recommend shoulder surgery.

After Receiving Treatment

Regardless of whether you have surgery or not, you may need to attend physical therapy sessions. Physical therapy will help you strengthen and stabilize your rotator cuff tendon and decrease the amount of pressure that the calcium deposits put on your tendon.

After receiving surgical treatment, it generally takes about six weeks to recover. During this time, you may need to wear a sling to keep your shoulder immobilized.

It is important to keep in mind that the length of your recovery will depend on the location, size, and number of calcium deposits that you have; however, the outlook for this condition is positive! 

If you are experiencing significant pain, it does not have to be something you settle for living with. Severe or acute calcific tendinitis can be treated, and you can experience relief!

Schedule an appointment with one of our board-certified specialists at OrthoNeuro today! We have multiple offices located throughout Columbus, OH for your convenience. 

Shoulder Specialists

“8 weeks after bad rotator cuff surgery and I am doing well thank you for the great service“