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What is Calcific shoulder?

Shoulder pain is a very common complaint, affecting up to a third of the general population. One cause of shoulder pain is calcific tendonitis shoulder, a very frustrating condition causing severe pain that can last for months. Calcium deposits in the shoulder are irritating to the tendons. What are the options if you have shoulder calcification?

Calcific tendonitis occurs when calcium deposits form in a rotator cuff tendon. The rotator cuff tendons form your shoulder joint. Usually, calcium deposits in shoulder lead to severe pain and restricted movement in the shoulder.

Why does calcific shoulder occur? The truth is nobody knows why the human body develops calcium deposits in tendons. Various research has been carried out, identifying that increase calcium build-up has been present in thyroid abnormalities, diseases such as diabetes and hormonal issues. Calcific shoulder is more common in women aged between 40 and 60, people with strenuous jobs or hobbies such as builders, athletes etc. It has been recognised that a fall on the shoulder could also precipitate a calcium deposit formation.

There are three standard stages to the formation of calcification. Usually, the last stage, known as ‘resorptive,’ is the most painful as the calcification is reabsorbed back into the blood stream

How do you diagnose Calcific Shoulder ?

Firstly, we assess the signs and symptoms. Calcium deposits in the shoulder can cause severe pain, stiffness and lifting the arm in different directions is limited. An X-ray of the shoulder shows more extensive harder calcium deposits.

However a Musculoskeletal (MSK) Ultrasound would be recommended to pick up smaller calcium deposits that can be missed on an X-ray and to identify any other conditions such as subacromial bursitis.

Our specialists provide a fast diagnosis and easy access to appointments.

Should you have shockwave therapy for calcific tendonitis shoulder?

Recent evidence suggests that shockwave therapy is as effective as injections for calcific tendonitis shoulder. However, treatment often takes longer with between 3 -5 session required (once weekly) We recommend a high-energy focussed shockwave therapy for the best results.

Recommended treatments for Calcific Shoulder

  • Extracorporeal shockwave therapy (non invasive and preferred method of treatment)

  • Steroid injections

  • Medication

  • Orthotics

  • Physiotherapy


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