Calcific tendinitis

Calcific tendinitis is characterized by deposition of crystalline calcium phosphate in any tendon in the body. The tendon that is usually affected is the rotator cuff tendon in the shoulder. The condition is also linked with frozen shoulder and can be a precipitating factor.

What are the indications?

The chief symptoms of calcific tendinitis include pain and inflammation in the affected tendon, especially in the shoulder.

  • Pain that is aggravated if the arm is raised above shoulder level
  • Pain is intensified if the individual lies on his/her shoulder
  • Stiffness, snapping, catching sensation or weakness of the shoulder

    Calcific tendinitis
    Pain that is aggravated if the arm is raised above shoulder level.
  • Pain is sometimes acute that it can rouse the individual from sleep

Management of calcific tendinitis

  • Limited intake of dietary calcium – this is a conservative treatment measure which is considered effective in some individuals with calcific tendinitis. This includes limitations on all milk products, nuts with high calcium content, calcium-fortified products and high-calcium vegetables. In case there is no improvement in the condition, other treatment options should be used.
  • Medications such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and analgesics can be used as part of treatment.
  • High energy extracorporeal shockwave therapy – this treatment involves using sound waves
  • Physical therapy is comprised of heat and cold therapy and electroanalgesia which helps provide relief to the symptoms.
  • Corticosteroid injections are useful if there is acute inflammation in the shoulder. This works by reducing the pain linked with the condition.
  • Needling and lavage involves breaking down the calcific deposits by repeated puncturing with a needle. The material is aspirated using a conduit of saline. This procedure can be performed under local anesthesia.
  • Surgery for calcific tendinitis involves removal of the deposits from the shoulder. It can be an open surgery or arthroscopic surgery. Both procedures are considered difficult but the success rate is high.

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