I have been told I have calcium deposits in my shoulder… what is that?

Author: Howard J. Luks, MD- Posted in: Shoulder FAQ 2 Comments

Calcific tendonitis…

is a condition where calcium deposits inside the rotator cuff tendon.  Calcific tendonitis affecting the rotator cuff is a relatively common cause of pain… and the pain can be very severe. We do not know why the calcium forms or deposits in the rotator cuff… it does not mean that you are taking too much calcium, drink too much milk or have a problem with your internal organs.

Note the comma shaped calcium deposit above the humerus

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.  They look tired from not sleeping, they can not sit still and they are always grabbing at their shoulder.

If the pain is tolerable then it is prudent to pursue a course of “observation” because most cases of calcific tendonitis will resolve spontaneously.  If, however,  the pain is very severe, your surgeon might send you to a radiologist who can 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.  Surgery for calcific tendonitis is rarely necessary.

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2 Responses to “I have been told I have calcium deposits in my shoulder… what is that?”

  1. Reply Bonnie says:

    I have the same problem…I went to emerge and they gave me a shot of cortozoine in the shoulder but it did not work and most doctors do not give them shots. What do i do…i cant take imflammatory meds

    • Reply Howard J. Luks, MD says:

      The most accurate way of getting the cortisone or saline to the proper place (in the calcium deposit) is to get a radiologist to perform an Ultrasound guided aspiration/injection and lavage. *Blind* injections in the office work well for other types of shoulder pain.

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