Calcific tendonitis explained

Calcific tendonitis is a build up of calcium in the tendons, which often occurs in the shoulder joint. The calcium deposits can lead to inflammation and irritation, which can ultimately cause intense pain. 

Here, we’ll look at how it is diagnosed, how you can safely manage your symptoms, as well as how shockwave therapy in Twickenham can help resolve calcific tendonitis.

Please bear in mind that although the information and tips in this blog are helpful when treating calcific tendonitis, for specific advice and guidance, please contact a physiotherapist for a professional assessment.

Understanding calcific tendonitis 

Calcific tendonitis in the shoulder refers to a build-up of calcium in the rotator cuff tendon. We rely on the rotator cuff tendon to help us raise and rotate our arms. The intense pain accompanying the calcium deposits can therefore significantly restrict shoulder movement. 

Women are more likely to experience calcific tendonitis. The condition is also more likely to affect people between the ages of 30 and 50. Although the pain typically resolves on its own within a few months, it can take up to 5 years for the condition to completely resolve. 

Signs and symptoms

While symptoms of calcific tendonitis can vary from person to person, the 2 main symptoms include pain and consequently restricted movement of the arm. 

Pain in the shoulder and upper arm can make it difficult to sleep and also interfere with daily life. For example, you may be unable to put your hand behind you or reach as far as the back of your head due to restricted movement. Pain can vary in intensity from person to person.

How is calcific tendonitis diagnosed?

Calcification is usually viewed on an x-ray and appears in 2 forms. The shape of the calcification will determine the treatment offered to you. 

  1. Striated – calcification appears thinly spread throughout the tendon
  2. Discrete lumps – calcification appears as small, pebble-like bumps  

Treatment options available

During intense episodes of pain, it’s best to avoid movement such as lifting heavy weights, reaching suddenly or prolonged overhead activities. 

When your pain is more manageable you can try: 

Gentle exercise and physiotherapy

Exercise that does not aggravate the shoulder pain is advised eg gym work, cycling, running, walking etc. Do not aggravate the shoulder pain.

Specific shoulder exercises, prescribed by a physiotherapist, can also help with pain, stiffness and muscle weakness. 

Shockwave therapy

This uses high energy sound waves to encourage tissue regeneration. Shockwave therapy is a non-invasive treatment that is recommended by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence for the treatment of chronic tendon conditions. 

Get in touch

Is calcific tendonitis causing you pain or discomfort? Then give us a call on 020 8898 1231 to speak to one of our expert staff. We will be happy to answer any of your questions or provide more information on our treatments, which includes shockwave therapy.