Have you been told that you have calcium deposits in your shoulder or rotator cuff?  Have you been experiencing severe pain on the side of your shoulder or upper arm?

If the answer to those are yes, then you are likely suffering from a condition we call Calcific Tendonitis.

What is Calcific tendonitis ?

Calcific Tendonitis is a condition where calcium is found inside the rotator cuff tendon itself. Calcific tendonitis of the rotator cuff is a relatively common cause of pain. For some, the pain is mild— for many, the pain can be very severe. The pain is usually on the top or side of your shoulder –because that is the most common location for a calcium deposit in your shoulder.

Note the comma shaped calcium deposit above the humerus

Why Do I Have Calcium in My Shoulder?

We do not know why most people develop calcium deposits in their shoulder.  It does not mean you are drinking too much milk or taking too many calcium supplements.


How Do You Treat Calcium in The Shoulder?

Calcific tendonitis can be especially painful.  While some patients have mild symptoms, most patients are miserable and are looking for a “quick fix”.   Patients with calcific tendonitis are usually easy to pick out of a crowd of shoulder pain patients.  You look tired from not sleeping, they you can not sit still and you are always grabbing your shoulder.

Shoulder ice/compression sleeves can help when the pain of calcific tendonitis is severe. If the pain is tolerable then it is prudent to pursue a course of “observation” because many cases of calcific tendonitis will resolve spontaneously. Yes.. in many, the calcium will dissolve and go away.

If, however,  your pain is very severe, the most effective way to alleviate your pain is to send you to a radiologist who will perform an ultrasound.  After he/she identifies the calcium deposit, they place a needle inside it and “wash it out.”  The relief is usually immediate and profound. Again, consider a cold compression sleeve for the first few days after the procedure.

Do I Need Surgery For Calcium in my Rotator Cuff?

Because the ultrasound guided washout has been so successful, it is very rare that surgery for calcific tendonitis is necessary. The key is to find a surgeon / radiologist team that works together and is very good at this technique.   The ultrasound guided washout is a small procedure performed in the office.  It is performed using local anesthesia in your skin.   You will be sore for a day or two after the washout, then your pain should subside dramatically.

Dr. Howard Luks, MD – Hawthorne, NY

19 Bradhurst Avenue, Suite 1300N
Hawthorne 10532
United States (US)
Phone: (914) 789-2735
Fax: (914) 789-2743