Calcific tendinitis can be a painful shoulder condition where deposits of calcium form in the tendons of the rotator cuff. The formation of calcium is thought to be an abnormal response to tendon cell death. Instead of forming scar tissue some people deposit calcium. Most people are aged between 30 and 50. The calcium can be very irritating to the local tendon causing extreme pain. The calcium can also create a lump in the tendon that limits shoulder movement. Calcium may also be seen on X-rays in patients with no symptoms.
Pain is located over the outside of the shoulder. Sleeping may be disturbed. Above shoulder motion may be limited.
The calcium can be seen on plain x-ray, ultrasound and MRI scan.
Treatment of calcific tendinitis varies on the phase of the disease, symptom severity and size of the calcific lesion. Treatment options for pain relief include:
Simple analgesics and anti-inflammatories
Subacromial corticosteroid injection +/- needling of the calcific deposit
Arthroscopic surgical removal of the calcium deposits
The natural history of calcific tendinitis is for the lesions to spontaneously resolve however this may take some time. Most lesion are not detectable by ultrasound 10 years following the onset of symptoms.