Calcific Tendonitis of the Shoulder

Calcific tendonitis of the shoulder is the formation of small calcium deposits (usually about 1 to 2 centimeters in size) within the tendons of the rotator cuff. It can cause the surrounding tissues to become inflamed, resulting in significant pain. These calcium deposits are more common in patients over the age of 30-40, and they are more likely to occur in people with diabetes. Treatment can help patients with calcific tendonitis of the shoulder feel relief from the pain and improve any related mobility issues.

  • Symptoms

  • Treatment


Symptoms of calcific tendonitis can include any of the following:

  • Sudden pain, especially with movement
  • Severe pain that disrupts sleep
  • Sudden stiffness
  • Reduced range of motion
  • Rotator cuff tenderness

These symptoms can also occur with other shoulder conditions (such as frozen shoulder or rotator cuff tear), so it is important to get evaluated by an orthopedic surgeon to receive an accurate diagnosis.

Frequently Asked Questions

What causes calcific tendonitis of the shoulder?

The exact cause of calcific tendonitis is unknown, and it can be difficult to predict. There is a recognized connection to age, since most patients with this condition are age 40 or older. Wear and tear can also be predictors.

How is calcific tendonitis of the shoulder diagnosed?

Calcific tendonitis of the shoulder can cause symptoms such as sudden pain and decreased mobility, either of which is grounds for scheduling an appointment for evaluation. Your orthopedic surgeon will ask about your symptoms and medical history, perform a physical exam, and take X-rays to determine whether there are signs of calcium deposits. X-rays can also help to pinpoint precisely where any calcium deposits might be. Patients may need several X-rays over a period of time to monitor any changes and progression, especially to determine whether the condition is improving or worsening.

Do I need treatment for calcific tendonitis of the shoulder?

If you have calcific tendonitis of the shoulder, nonsurgical treatments are recommended, as these usually have minimal to no side effects and are often able to eliminate symptoms. If you have tried nonsurgical treatments without success, and surgery has been recommended, carefully weigh the pros and cons for yourself. Every surgery comes with a risk of complications; however, if calcific tendonitis is significantly affecting your quality of life, surgery could eliminate your symptoms and save you from long-term limitations and effects on shoulder mobility and health (such as persistent weakness, decreased range of motion, and chronic pain). In all cases, it is strongly recommended that you have your shoulder be evaluated by an orthopedic surgeon to be sure there are no other conditions contributing to or causing your shoulder pain.