• Calcific Tendonitis of the Shoulder


    Calcific tendonitis occurs when calcium deposits form in the tendons in the shoulder.
    Tendons of the Shoulder
    Rotator cuff labeled
    Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.


    Calcific tendonitis may be caused by:
    • Overuse, repetitive motions
    • Injury

    Risk Factors

    Your risk of calcific tendonitis of the shoulder may be increased if you:
    • Participate in sports that require repetitive arm use such as baseball, swimming, javelin throwing, and volleyball
    • Have a job that requires repetitive arm use such as painting, carpentry, and welding


    Symptoms may include:
    • Sudden onset of pain
    • Intense pain with shoulder movement
    • Stiffness of shoulder
    • Loss of shoulder range of motion
    • Pain that disrupts sleep
    • Tenderness over rotator cuff
    • Loss of muscle mass


    You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. It will assess your range of motion and stability.
    Images may be taken of your shoulder. This can be done with an x-ray.
    You may be referred to a specialist. For example, an orthopedic surgeon specializes in bones.


    Most cases of calcific tendonitis resolve over time. Talk with your doctor about the best plan for you. Options include the following:

    Medical Treatment

    Your medical treatment plan will likely include:
    • Nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
    • Rest
    • Heat and/or ice
    • A steroid shot directly into your shoulder to decrease inflammation and pain

    Physical Therapy

    You may be referred to a therapist for treatment. A therapist will use different treatments to decrease the pain and inflammation. Possible treatments include:
    • Ultrasound—a device that uses high energy sound waves to decrease pain in soft tissue
    • Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS)—used to decrease muscle stiffness or spasms
    When the symptoms have started to decrease, you will work with the therapist to strengthen your muscles and increase your range of motion.

    Lavage Treatment

    Lavage may help flush out the calcium deposits. A needle is placed directly into the shoulder. Normal saline is injected through the needles. The deposits are then broken up for removal.

    Shock Wave Therapy

    This therapy breaks up deposits by sending sound waves to the shoulder. The body can then reabsorb the smaller pieces. This should decrease symptoms.


    In some cases, surgery may be done to remove deposits. The procedure is called arthroscopy . It uses small incisions and instruments to view the joint and remove the deposits.


    To prevent this condition, avoid or limit repetitive movements of the upper arm.


    Arthroscopy Association of North America http://www.aana.org

    Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons http://orthoinfo.aaos.org


    Canadian Orthopaedic Association http://www.coa-aco.org

    Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation http://www.canorth.org


    Calcific tendonitis. Internet Society of Orthopaedic Surgery & Trauma website. Available at: http://www.orthogate.org/patient-education/shoulder/calcific-tendonitis-of-the-shoulder.html. Updated July 27, 2006. Accessed September 9, 2014.

    Calcific tendonitis. Orthopaedic and Sports Medicine Physicians website. Available at: http://www.orthosports.com.au/content%5Fcommon/pg-calcific-tendonitis.seo. Accessed September 9, 2014.

    Impingement of the shoulder. Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website. Available at: http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=a00032. Updated February 2011. Accessed September 9, 2014.

    Impingement syndrome of rotator cuff. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated June 24, 2014. Accessed September 9, 2014.

    Revision Information

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