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What is calcific tendonitis and what causes it?

Calcific tendonitis is a condition caused by calcium deposits building up in a person’s muscles or tendons. If calcium builds up in an area, a person may feel pain and discomfort there.

Although this condition can occur in other parts of the body, the most common area for calcific tendinitis to develop is the rotator cuff. This is the group of muscles and tendons that provide strength and stability to the upper arm and shoulder.


Although medication or physical therapy, or a combination of the two, can usually treat the condition successfully,  you may be told that surgery may be required. 

Most people will experience shoulder pain and discomfort when calcific tendonitis develops.

The pain from calcific tendonitis is usually concentrated in the front or back of a person’s shoulder and down into the arm.


Some people may experience severe symptoms. They may be unable to move their arm, and the pain can interfere with sleep.


As the calcium deposits build up in stages, the pain a person feels may come on suddenly or increase slowly and gradually.


The three stages are known as:

  • Pre-calcification. The body undergoes cellular changes in the areas where the calcium will eventually build up.

  • The calcific stage. Calcium releases from the cells and begins to build up. During this stage, the body reabsorbs the calcium buildup, which is the most painful part of the process.

  • The postcalcific stage. The calcium deposit disappears, and a healthy tendon takes its place.


However, it is possible to have the condition without any noticeable symptoms.


Causes and risk factors

Doctors cannot say for sure why some people are more prone than others to calcific tendonitis.

Calcific tendonitis occurs more frequently in adults between 40 and 60 years old, with women more likely to experience the condition than men.

The buildup of calcium deposits may be linked to one of the following factors:

  • aging

  • damage to the tendons

  • a lack of oxygen to the tendons

  • genetics

  • abnormal thyroid gland activity

  • cells growing abnormally

  • chemicals produced by the body to fight inflammation

  • metabolic diseases, including diabetes


If a person’s shoulder pain or discomfort does not go away, a doctor should check it out. At the appointment, a doctor will ask about a person’s symptoms and medical history.


The doctor will perform a physical examination of the affected area to see whether the range of motion has changed and how severe the pain is.


A doctor who suspects calcific tendonitis will usually request imaging tests, which will reveal any calcium deposits or other abnormalities in the joint.


An X-ray can help identify large buildups of calcium. An ultrasound scan can reveal any smaller deposits that the X-ray may have missed.


The size of the calcium deposits found by these tests will affect the treatment plan.

Treatment Options

Medication and physical therapy can usually be used to treat calcific tendonitis.

Common medication prescribed to treat the condition includes nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), which are also available over the counter.


A doctor may also prescribe corticosteroid injections, which can help to reduce pain and swelling.


Other treatments that can help relieve the symptoms of calcific tendonitis include:


Extracorporeal shockwave therapy (ESWT)


Not many Doctors will tell their patients about High-Energy ShockWave Therapy for whatever the reason and they vary, but for the most part Doctors are not trained in ESWT, only the smart ones will research and find how out the Effectiveness of High-Energy ShockWave ESWT is.


Most Doctor's either refer their patients to me or have me come into their office to treat that patient. If you need us to talk with your Doctor, have him call us direct. 

We Know That You Have Been Told That Surgery Is Your ONLY Option For Your Shoulder/Rotator Cuff Injury and You Know Better.

High-Energy Extracorporeal ShockWave (ESWT) is an Extraordinary Alternative to Invasive Surgery that I have been getting people Back In Their Game with for 15 years now, returning Pro Athletes as well as many Patients back to Near Perfect Form, giving them back Careers and their Quality of Life. I have a HUGE Success Rate with Achilles Injuries, even if surgery was done and there where complications.  
High-Energy ShockWave ESWT is An Extremely Effective Modality in Orthopedics and Is Actually More Effective Than Surgery for most Tendon, Musculoskeletal or Soft Tissue Injuries, even Non-Union Fractures Can Be Healed with this Technology.

Mr. Platt contacted me with an Extreme case of Chronic Calcific Shoulder with Rotator Cuff Injury, with impingement of the shoulder. His wife informed me that it was keeping him from doing anything. He was basically confined to the bed with little to no activity in his life. It continually got worse, as he went through Doctors and Specialists with no real relief. He was tired of Injections that didn't last, he definitely didn't want to get hooked on pain killers. That is where I came in. It wasn't long before he was AMAZED with how he could move in a short amount of time, while allowing the healing to take place, he regained total use of his shoulder again and his Quality of Life was returned. He felt a total difference just in the short time I was there and he reported he kept getting better and better with time.
He asked to be featured on my website, so people could see how well it works!

Mr Platt

DON'T Make it your LAST Option, make it your FIRST!

What Happens to Calcium Deposits?

We are asked all of the time, what happens to the calcium deposit or spurs (that show up in imaging) as they are blasted by the shock waves. While calcium build-up is most often a result of micro-tears or other trauma to a tendon, the same way that they came out when the injury occurred, they will Resorb back into the system. Acoustic waves break up the existing calcifications with micro blasts. High-Energy Shockwave Therapy starts the biochemical decalcification of the calcific build-up while it treats the tendon. The granular particles of calcium are then removed by the lymphatic system. We have seen it on follow up imaging, where the deposits are gone once the injury has been properly healed.

Calcific Shoulder


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