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Calcific tendinitis

- painful calcium deposits in the shoulder -


calcific tendinitis, calcium deposit shoulder


What is a calcifying tendinitis ?
Calcifying tendinitis is a common disorder of the rotator cuff. The deposition of calcium is due to an unknown cause. About 2.5 percent of all people show an - often unknown - calcium deposit, which means, that not everyone with a calcium deposit on the x-ray is suffering from shoulder pain. The deposition of calcium in the tendon is free of pain. Later, during the chronic phase - mild to moderate degree of pain might be possible. If the calcium deposit will be resorbed, it will often happen with acute pain for some days. Calcium deposits may occur "only" at the shoulders or, quite rare, at other joints, like th hip. This site is dealing with calcific tendinits at the shoulder - not at other joints.


Complaints of calcifying tendinitis ?
The most common problem is pain. Especially during overhead activities and every night, so that the patient can not fall asleep. If people turn onto the affected shoulder, while they are sleeping, they are awake at once, because of the occuring pain in this position. At day people are tired, because of the missing sleep. Pain develops sinusoid over month and years. Painfree phases change with painfull periods. Working in and above shoulder level ( hanging laundry up, to comb once hair, cleaning of windows, serving ball in sports, like tennis, etcetera. ) causes an impingement in the subacromial space. If a calcium deposit is resorbed spontaneously this process might be accompanied with enormous pain. People are quite affraid in this situation, so that they visit an outpatient department of a hospital, normally.


What is the cause of a calcific tendinits ?
Until today, we don´t know much about the process how the calcium deposits develop, why some people are affected and some not. Some having calcium deposits their whole life with no pain and others suffering from a lot of pain due to these calcifications. Most of the affected people are women in themiddle age ( between 30 and 50 years ). An increased mechanical stress onto the affected tendon might be one possible cause for the development of a calcium deposit in that tendon. Blood circulation in this tendon might be decreased and the tendon cells ittself ossify in this way.


What is the therapy for calcific tendinits ? :
Method of choice in the acute, resorbing phase is not the operation. It is pain medication. Although pain seems to be tremendous for the affected patient: cooling, pain medication and rest will lead into a decrease of pain within a few days.
During the chronic phase nonoperative methods, like antiinflammatory drugs, acupuncture, physiotherapy, local injections will work well. Irradiation with x-ray or extracorporeal shockwaves are also therapeutic options.
If nothing works and pain is still a problem since months or years, calcium deposits can be removed very precisely - frequently - arthroscopically and sometimes - rarely - in a mini open procedure. Endoscopic removal is gentle procedure with not much postoperative pain.


Frequently asked questions ( FAQ´s ):
Calcium deposits can diminish spontaneously, no one knows whether they will be resorbed and at what time.
If a calcium deposit is eliminated by a therapeutic treatment ( no matter what kind of treatment ) it nearly won´t occur again.
The opposite shoulder might be affected in about 10 percent of all cases.
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