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Calcific Tendonitis Shoulder

Calcific Tendonitis Shoulder

Shoulder pain in Merrick is a common problem affecting people of all ages and genders. The intensity of this condition may range from mild to severe. Shoulder pain causes discomfort and can hinder you from carrying out your normal daily activities comfortably. There are several reasons why you may experience severe pain in your shoulder. One of the potential causes of shoulder pain is calcific tendonitis.

Calcific tendonitis is a condition that causes pain and inflammation in the shoulder joint. While calcific tendonitis can occur anywhere in the body, it most often affects the shoulder joint. Several factors may cause calcific tendonitis of the shoulder. This article will explore the risk factors, symptoms, and treatment options for calcific tendonitis at Summit Physical Therapy.

What is Calcific Tendonitis of the Shoulder?

Calcific Tendonitis, also known as calcifying tendonitis, is a condition that results from the formation of calcium deposits (calcification) within the tendons and muscles of the shoulder joint. These calcium deposits may occur in shoulder tendons, especially the rotator cuff tendons.

Calcific tendonitis most commonly occurs among people between the ages of 30 to 50. The condition is almost twice as likely to occur in women as in men. It is also more common in the right shoulder than in the left. However, 10% of patients might experience tendonitis in both shoulders. 

Calcium deposits in calcific tendonitis may accumulate in one location or occur in multiple areas. These deposits may grow bigger or become more irritated, causing severe pain. The exact cause of calcific tendonitis is not known. However, medical professionals think it results from a combination of factors, including age, lifestyle, etc.

Stages of Calcific Tendonitis

Calcific tendonitis occurs in three major stages. These include:

  1. Pre-calcific stage: This is the initial phase of calcific tendonitis. Here, shoulder movement causes pain and the range of motion becomes limited.
  2. Calcific Stage: At this stage, calcium is released from the cells and it forms calcium deposits. After a while, the body reabsorbs the calcium deposit, causing significant discomfort.
  3. Post-calcific Stage: This is the final stage of calcific tendonitis. Here, the calcium deposits are resolved and replaced by healthy tissues. The shoulder tendons start to heal and the range of motion starts to improve. 

Risk Factors for Calcific Tendonitis

The following are risk factors that may contribute to the development of calcific tendonitis:

  • Age: This is one of the foremost risk factors contributing to the development of shoulder calcific tendonitis. This condition is prevalent in people between the ages of 30 to 50.
  • Genetics: Some people are more genetically predisposed to developing calcific tendonitis than others.
  • Gender: Research has shown that women are almost twice as likely to develop severe calcific tendonitis shoulder compared to men.
  • Lifestyle Factors: People who smoke and have a high intake of some foods, such as red meat and sugary beverages, are at greater risk of developing calcific tendonitis.
  • Overuse or Trauma to the Shoulders: People who perform repetitive shoulder movements or overuse their shoulders, such as athletes, manual laborers, etc., have an increased likelihood of developing calcific tendonitis.
  • Metabolic Disorders: Conditions such as diabetes or gout may put people at risk of developing calcific tendonitis.

Symptoms of Calcific Tendonitis of the Shoulder

The symptoms of calcific tendonitis vary according to intensity and duration. Some of the most common signs and symptoms of calcific tendonitis include:

  • Pain: This is the most common symptom of calcific tendonitis. You may experience severe pain in your shoulder if you have calcific tendonitis. Movements of the hand/shoulder may aggravate this pain and may come with a decreased range of motion. Shoulder pain from calcifying tendonitis may worsen at night, restricting you from sleeping on the affected side.
  • Tenderness in the Shoulder Joint: The area where the calcium deposits have formed in the shoulder joint may become tender. This tenderness makes the shoulder uncomfortable to touch or apply pressure to it.
  • Limited Range of Motion: Your range of motion, here, refers to the extent to which you can move your shoulder around its joint. Calcific tendonitis comes with pain and stiffness that restrict your ability to move your shoulder.
  • Muscle Weakness: Sometimes, you may develop muscle weakness in the shoulder due to pain and limited mobility.

The symptoms of calcific tendonitis of the shoulder may negatively impact your daily activities and overall quality of life.

How is Calcific Tendonitis Diagnosed?

If you suspect you have calcific tendonitis, you should see your healthcare provider immediately. There are several ways to diagnose calcific tendonitis. Your healthcare provider will examine your shoulder, ask about your symptoms, and review your medical history. The two main ways to diagnose calcific tendonitis include physical examination and imaging tests.

Physical Examination

Your healthcare provider may conduct a physical examination to determine the presence of calcium deposits in your shoulder. During the physical examination, your healthcare provider assesses your shoulder joints and surrounding structures. They check for signs of inflammation, such as redness and swelling. Also, they may examine your range of motion in the affected shoulder. Furthermore, you may undergo specific shoulder tests to reveal the area of tenderness and source of pain.

Imaging Studies

Sometimes, physical examinations may not be enough to confirm the diagnosis. When this happens, imaging tests are employed to confirm the diagnosis and assess the extent of calcium deposit. Some examples of imaging tests that may diagnose calcific tendonitis include:

  • X-rays: An x-ray is the most commonly used imaging tool for diagnosing calcific tendonitis. It can easily detect calcium deposits within the affected tendons. It reveals these deposits as white, opaque areas within the soft tissues of the shoulder.
  • Ultrasound: This imaging test method provides real-time images of the shoulder that visualize the calcium deposit within the tendons. An ultrasound can also reveal the size and location of the deposits.
  • MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging): Compared to other methods of imaging, MRIs give more detailed information. An MRI can evaluate the soft tissues of the shoulder and reveal the extent of inflammation and the presence of calcium deposits.

Treatment for Calcific Tendonitis of the Shoulder

Calcific tendonitis of the shoulder treatments in Merrick, NY, vary, depending on the severity of symptoms and size of calcium deposits. The two major treatment options available are conservative and surgical. Conservative treatment options are safe and non-invasive. One of the most common and effective conservative treatment options is physical therapy.

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy is a safe, effective, and non-invasive approach to managing calcific tendonitis of the shoulder. Key components of physical therapy that manage the symptoms of calcific tendonitis that improve the function of the affected joint and promote healing include:

1. Pain Management

Physical therapy in Merrick, NY, employs various techniques to relieve the pain that comes with calcific tendonitis. Some of these techniques may include but are not limited to manual therapy, cold or heat therapy, and therapeutic exercises designed to reduce muscle tension and inflammation.

2. Range of Movement Exercises

Calcific tendonitis restricts the range of movement of the affected shoulder. Physical therapists try to improve the range of movement by employing stretching and range of motion exercises. These calcific tendonitis of the shoulder exercises restore normal mobility to the affected shoulder. Examples of the range of motion exercises for calcific tendonitis include pendulum exercises, cross-body reach, wall slide, towel stretch, clock circles, etc.

3. Strengthening Exercise

Physical therapy aims to strengthen the muscles around the area affected by calcific tendonitis through exercises. These exercises overhead press, face pulls, internal rotation, rows, external rotation, etc. Strengthening exercises support your shoulder joints and reduce the stress on their tendons.

4. Functional Rehabilitation

Calcific Tendonitis restricts shoulder function and makes it difficult to carry out daily activities. Physical therapy tries to restore the functional abilities of the shoulder. This helps patients regain their independence and improves their quality of life.

5. Manual Therapy

Physical therapists may employ hands-on techniques, such as massage therapy and joint mobilization, to reduce pain and inflammation in the affected area. 

6. Patient Education

In addition to pain relief and restoration of function, physical therapists also educate their patients about their conditions, treatment plans, and self-care strategies. Patients also learn pain management techniques and tips for recovery at home. All of these ensure that the healing process is faster and prevents recurrence. 

The duration of physical therapy depends on the severity of your condition and how well you respond to treatment. Other conservative treatments for calcific tendonitis include rest, corticosteroid injections, over-the-counter medications, etc. Surgical treatment options include Extracorporeal Shockwave Therapy (ESWT), Needle Aspiration, Arthroscopic surgery, etc. Physical therapy in Merrick is considered the safest and most effective option for treating calcific tendonitis of the shoulder.


Calcific tendonitis of the shoulder can be a painful and limiting condition that causes significant discomfort. Early diagnosis and intervention of this condition are key to preventing long-term complications. While the exact cause of this condition is not known, most individuals can find relief and regain shoulder function. This is possible through appropriate treatment such as physical therapy at Summit Physical Therapy.

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