Calcific Tendonitis

What is it?

Calcific Tendonitis

Calcific Tendonitis is a condition that usually affects individuals over the age of forty and is characterized by the accumulation of deposits of calcium in the rotator cuff tendons of the shoulder. The term “Calcific Tendonitis” simply means: Calcific –Calcium deposits and Tendonitis –Irritation or Inflammation of the tendon where the deposits accumulate.

The reason that this problem causes shoulder pain is that calcium is an irritant in the shoulder and it causes the tendon to swell so that it pinchesas it glides underneath the acromion bone of the shoulder as you raise and lower your arm.


Most people will get better with conservative, non-operative treatment since the calcium deposits generally will get resorbed and go away over time. Generally, people will regain normal function of the shoulder and resolution of their pain after 2-3 weeks without any treatment. Approximately 1/3 of patients will have a complete disappearance of the calcium deposits within 3-10 years.

ultrasound shock therapy and needling

If patients do not get better, then treatment may be needed to help resolve the pain. anti-inflammatory medicationfor pain and possibly physical therapyif stiffness or decreased range of motion is present.

steroid (cortisone) injection into the shoulder:Injections and medication are useful for pain but there is no evidence that they speed the resorption of calcium.

Other, less commonly used treatments include ultrasound shock therapy and “needling” in which large needles are placed into the calcium deposits to help release pressure. Ultrasound and cortisone (Iontophoresis) may be helpful in alleviating pain and resorbing calcium.

arthroscopic surgery arthroscopic surgery

For situations in which non-surgical treatments do not help then arthroscopic surgeryis used to remove the calcium deposits.

  • American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons Website
  • Arthroscopy Association of North America Website
  • muschealth Website
  • American Shoulder & Elbow Surgeons Website
  • Charleston RiverDogs Website