Calcific Tendonitis

Calcific tendonitis is a build-up of calcium crystals in different tendons within the body. The most commonly affected tendons are those of the rotator cuff muscles, although it can affect other tendons. The rotator cuffs are four muscles attached to the scapula (shoulder blade) and humerus (upper arm bone) that help control and carry out shoulder movements. The calcium crystal deposits can be approximately 1-2 cm in size and can exert pressure on the tendon and also cause chemical irritation, leading to pain and discomfort.

It is not entirely known why calcific tendonitis occurs, however it is associated with degenerative changes within the joints and muscles of the shoulder. The symptoms may resolve in a few weeks for some people or after a few years for others.

What are the symptoms?

  • Painful shoulder (or other area if another tendon is affected) and may radiate into the arm
  • Pain is often worse at night
  • Reduced shoulder range of motion
  • Some shoulder movements may feel weaker
  • The symptoms may resolve in a few weeks for some people or a few years for others

How can calcific tendonitis be treatment?

  • There is good evidence for extra corporeal shock wave therapy to be an effective treatment for calcific tendonitis. Although the mechanism of action is unclear, it is thought the high energy sound waves break-up calcific deposits, allowing your body to remove the deposits.
  • Non-steroid anti-inflammatories can help reduce any inflammation (e.g. ibuprofen)
  • Chiropractic or physiotherapy can help with prescriptive exercises alongside manual therapy techniques to help ease the pain
  • Arthroscopic shoulder surgery may be needed in severe cases