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Calcific Tendonitis

What is calcific tendonitis?

Calcific tendonitis is a joint problem caused by deposits of calcium in a tendon. A tendon is a band of strong fibrous tissue that attaches muscle to bone. The deposits of calcium are called calcification. They cause pain and inflammation. The tendon may get hardened by the calcium.


Calcific tendonitis happens most often in the tendons of the shoulder joints, but any joint may have this problem.

How does it occur?

Doctors don't know what causes the calcium deposits.

What are the symptoms?

Calcific tendonitis can be mild or severe. Symptoms are:

  • pain
  • tenderness.

When calcific tendonitis affects the shoulder, you may have trouble moving your shoulder or raising your arm above shoulder height.

How is it diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider will ask about your symptoms and examine you. You will have X-rays of the joint.

How is it treated?

To relieve pain and get movement of the injured joint back to normal:

  • Take anti-inflammatory medicine, such as ibuprofen, as directed by your healthcare provider. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines (NSAIDs) may cause stomach bleeding and other problems. These risks increase with age. Read the label and take as directed. Unless recommended by your healthcare provider, do not take for more than 10 days.
  • When the affected area, like the shoulder, is painful, put an ice pack, gel pack, or package of frozen peas, wrapped in a cloth, on the area every 3 to 4 hours for up to 20 minutes at a time.
  • Apply moist heat to help a stiff shoulder gain range of motion.
  • Do the exercises prescribed by your provider to keep the joint moving.
  • Get physical therapy.
  • Avoid activities that make the problem worse.

If the symptoms do not go away, your healthcare provider may give you a steroid shot into the joint.


Some providers use needling into the calcified areas. You are given a sedative to relax you. Then your provider puts a large needle into the calcium deposit to try to break up the calcified mass.


Shock wave therapy may also been used to help break up the calcium deposits.


This condition can be treated with surgery if other treatments do not work. Surgery may be used to improve your range of motion if calcific tendonitis in your shoulder makes it hard for you to move your shoulder.

How long will the effects last?

Calcific tendonitis usually gets better with 4 to 6 weeks of treatment, but sometimes symptoms last longer than this. In some cases, the symptoms go away without treatment. The calcification will usually still be there even if symptoms go away.

How can I take care of myself?

  • Follow the treatment your healthcare provider recommends.
  • Move the joint often to prevent it from freezing up, but avoid activities that bother your joint.

Disclaimer: This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information provided is intended to be informative and educational and is not a replacement for professional medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.


HIA File orre3170.htm Release 13/2010

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