Calcific tendonitis occurs when calcium deposits form in the tendons in the shoulder.
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:
Your medical treatment plan will likely include:
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
- Heat and/or ice
- A steroid shot directly into your shoulder to decrease inflammation and pain
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, a therapist will help to strengthen your muscles and increase range of motion.
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 help reduce the chance of calcific tendonitis of the shoulder:
- Limit repetitive movements in the upper arm.
- Use weights to keep shoulder muscles strong.
- Change your workout routine or sports to rest the shoulder.
- Reviewer: EBSCO Medical Review Board Warren A. Bodine, DO, CAQSM
- Review Date: 08/2017 -
- Update Date: 09/09/2014 -