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Calcific Tendinopathy

What is a Calcific tendinopathy?

Calcific tendonitis is a common cause of shoulder pain and is characterized by a build-up of calcium in the tendon or muscle of the rotator cuff. The Rotator Cuff is a group of four muscles and tendons that help stabilize the shoulder: Supraspinatus, Infraspinatus, Teres minor & Subscapularis. They also aid in movement: Every time you move your shoulder, you are using your rotator cuff to stabilize and help move the joint.

Calcium build-up in the rotator cuff can limit movement in the shoulder as well as cause pain.

Xray of Calcific Tendinitis
Calcific Tendinitis – Seen on an X-Ray of the shoulder

Calcific tendonitis is a common cause of shoulder pain and is more common in people who perform a lot of overhead activities such as heavy lifting or sports like tennis.

What causes a Calcific tendinopathy?

The exact cause of calcium deposits isn’t 100% known, but there are several risk factors that predispose certain people to get them which include:

  • More common in women than men
  • People over 30 years old
  • Jobs or sports involving lots of overhead activity
  • Genetic predisposition
  • Metabolic disorders such as diabetes
  • Thyroid Disorders

Symptoms of a Calcific tendinopathy

Some patients with Calcific tendonitis may not experience pain and just complain about a limited range of motion in their shoulder. However, over time, they may start to experience pain as the condition worsens.

Diagnosis is usually made using X-ray or Ultrasound where the calcium deposit is seen in the tendon of the rotator cuff muscles.

Calcific Tendinitis
Calcific Tendinitis

How is a Calcific tendinopathy treated?

Treatment can be conservative or surgery.

Conservative treatment can involve:

  • NSAIDS and painkillers
  • Shockwave Therapy
  • Therapeutic ultrasound
  • Rehabilitation: exercises to stabilize the shoulder 

If conservative treatments do not improve the symptoms, the surgical intervention may be required.