What is calcific tendinitis?
Calcific tendinitis, also called degenerative calcification, is a common cause of chronic tendon pain. It is the result of calcium deposits building up on a tendon. Calcific tendinitis happens most often in the shoulder. In fact, it is one of the most common causes of shoulder pain.
Learn more about shoulder anatomy
What causes calcific tendinitis?
Although no one knows for sure what causes calcific tendinitis, there are a few factors that may make it more likely that you will develop this condition. You may be at higher risk of calcific tendinitis if you:
- Are female
- Do a lot of repetitive overhead arm movement, at work or in sports
- Are over 30 years old
- Have diabetes
- Have thyroid disease
What are the symptoms of calcific tendinitis?
Sometimes, calcific tendinitis of the shoulder has no symptoms, especially at first. Over time, symptoms become more common. Common symptoms of calcific tendinitis in the shoulder include:
- Shoulder pain, which may be severe
- Pain that makes it hard to sleep
- Shoulder stiffness
- Difficulty raising your arm or moving your shoulder fully
How is calcific tendinitis of the shoulder diagnosed?
To find out whether you have calcium deposits on your shoulder’s tendons, your doctor will start with a physical exam. Your doctor may apply pressure to the affected area or ask you to move your shoulder and arm in various ways. An X-ray and MRI can help rule out other possible causes of shoulder pain, such as rotator cuff injuries or shoulder arthritis.
How is calcific tendinitis treated?
The vast majority of patients with these injuries have success with nonsurgical treatment. Nonsurgical treatment options for calcific tendinitis of the shoulder include:
- Anti-inflammatory medicines (such as aspirin or ibuprofen)
- Physical therapy
- Steroid injections
New technologies have emerged to remove the painful calcium deposits and promote healing in the tendon. They include:
If your symptoms do not respond after six to twelve months of nonsurgical treatments, your doctor may recommend arthroscopic surgery.
Summit Orthopedics offers comprehensive sports medicine expertise
From Olympians to pro athletes to kids in youth sports and those that just want to be more active—Summit Orthopedics delivers expert care by fellowship-trained sports medicine physicians. If you are recently injured or concerned about ongoing pain, Summit Orthopedics sports medicine specialists have the expertise to evaluate your discomfort and develop a plan to quickly and safely help you get back to being active.
Summit has convenient locations across the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area, serving Minnesota and western Wisconsin. We have state-of-the-art centers for comprehensive orthopedic care in Eagan, MN, Vadnais Heights, MN, Plymouth, MN, and Woodbury, MN, as well as several additional community clinics.
More resources for you:
- Ask Dr. Scofield: What’s the Difference Between Tendinitis and Tendinopathy?
- Summit Offers New Treatment Option for Chronic Tendon Pain
- Ask Dr. Scofield: What Are the Symptoms of Tendinopathy?
- Ask Dr. Scofield: Which Tendon Treatment Is Right for Me?
- Learn more about Tenex and PRP treatments
- Learn about more treatments for tendon pain
- Watch the video: Are regenerative medicine injections safe?
Ask the Expert: Spine Video Series
“How-to” Video Series
Summit Orthopedics physical therapist Kyle Hall, DPT, physical therapy site lead for Summit’s Vadnais Heights location, discusses the relationship between core strength and overall orthopedic health.