Calcific Tendinitis of the Shoulder: Understanding, Treatment, and Recovery

Introduction to Calcific Tendinitis

Calcific tendinitis of the shoulder involves the buildup of calcium deposits in the rotator cuff tendons, particularly in the supraspinatus tendon. These deposits can cause inflammation and severe pain. The condition is most commonly seen in adults between the ages of 30 and 60 and is more prevalent in women than men.

Causes and Risk Factors

While the exact cause of calcific tendinitis is not fully understood, it is thought to be part of a natural healing process in which calcium deposits form abnormally. Factors that may increase the risk include:

  • Genetic predisposition.
  • Metabolic disorders.
  • Previous shoulder injuries.

Symptoms and Diagnosis

Symptoms of calcific tendinitis include:

  • Sharp pain in the shoulder, often worsening at night.
  • Pain that increases with specific movements or positions.
  • Limited range of motion.

Diagnosis is typically confirmed through X-rays, which can show the calcium deposits. MRI or ultrasound may also be used to assess the inflammation and the condition of the rotator cuff tendons.

Conservative Treatments

Conservative management is often the first line of treatment and can include:

  • NSAIDs: Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs help reduce pain and inflammation.
  • Physical Therapy: Exercises to maintain shoulder mobility and strength without aggravating symptoms.
  • Corticosteroid Injections: These can provide temporary relief from pain and inflammation.

Surgical and Non-Surgical Procedures

If conservative treatments fail, more direct interventions may be considered:

Shockwave Therapy

A non-invasive treatment using shockwaves to break up the calcium deposits.

  • Has been shown to be effective in reducing pain and promoting healing.

Advanced Arthroscopic and Regenerative Treatments for Calcific Tendinitis of the Shoulder

Arthroscopic Surgery for Calcific Tendinitis

Arthroscopic surgery offers a minimally invasive approach to effectively remove calcium deposits and address any associated rotator cuff damage. This technique provides the advantage of less postoperative pain, reduced recovery time, and minimal scarring compared to open surgery.

Arthroscopy with Calcium Deposit Removal

Procedure Details:

  • Small incisions are used to insert an arthroscope and specialized instruments into the shoulder joint.
  • Surgeons visualize and meticulously remove calcium deposits from the tendon.
  • The procedure may also include debridement, where damaged or inflamed tissue is cleaned out to facilitate healing.


  • Direct visualization of the calcium deposits ensures thorough removal.
  • Minimally invasive nature reduces recovery time and postoperative discomfort.
  • Allows patients to begin rehabilitation sooner, potentially leading to a quicker return to normal activities.

Arthroscopy with Rotator Cuff Repair

In cases where the rotator cuff is damaged either due to the presence of calcium deposits or through related degenerative changes, arthroscopic repair may be necessary.

Procedure Details:

  • Following the removal of calcium deposits, the surgeon assesses the rotator cuff for any tears or significant wear.
  • If damage is found, the tendon is repaired using sutures and anchors to reattach the tendon to the bone.
  • This combined approach addresses both the cause of pain (calcium deposits) and its consequences (tendon damage).


  • Treats the underlying cause and secondary damage in one procedure.
  • Arthroscopic repair of the rotator cuff is less invasive than open techniques, leading to potentially less pain and a faster recovery.

Rehabilitation and Recovery

Recovery varies based on the treatment method:

  • Shockwave Therapy: Patients may experience immediate pain relief, with gradual improvement as the body reabsorbs the calcium deposits.
  • Surgery: Recovery includes a period of immobilization followed by physical therapy focusing on regaining range of motion and strengthening the shoulder.

Regenerative Therapies

Regenerative Therapies: Enhancing Healing

Regenerative therapies, including PRP and stem cell treatments, are gaining attention for their potential to enhance the body’s natural healing processes, particularly in the context of tendon injuries and inflammation caused by calcific tendinitis.

Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP)


  • PRP involves drawing a sample of the patient’s blood, concentrating the platelets, and then re-injecting this concentrate into the affected area.
  • Platelets release growth factors that promote tissue repair and reduce inflammation.


  • PRP may be particularly beneficial following arthroscopic procedures to remove calcium deposits, as it can help reduce postoperative inflammation and accelerate tendon healing.
  • Early evidence suggests PRP can improve pain and functional outcomes in patients with calcific tendinitis.

Stem Cell Therapy


  • Stem cells, typically harvested from the patient’s own bone marrow or adipose tissue, are injected into the affected area.
  • These cells have the potential to differentiate into multiple types of tissue cells, including those needed to repair damaged tendons.


  • Although still under investigation, stem cell therapy holds promise for regenerating damaged tissue in the shoulder, enhancing recovery after calcium deposit removal, and possibly preventing recurrence.

From Dr. Dini's Desk: Expert Care for Shoulder Health

In treating calcific tendinitis, my approach is to combine proven treatment methods with the latest advancements in shoulder care to provide relief and restore function. Understanding each patient's unique condition and lifestyle helps tailor treatments that range from conservative management to advanced therapies like shockwave treatment or arthroscopic surgery.

My commitment to incorporating regenerative options such as PRP reflects my dedication to optimizing healing and ensuring a robust recovery. As research in this area progresses, I remain focused on integrating these innovative therapies to enhance the outcomes for my patients with calcific tendinitis.

Navigating through the pain and mobility restrictions of calcific tendinitis requires patience and expert care. My goal is to guide each patient through their recovery journey, using a comprehensive treatment strategy designed to return them to their daily activities and active lifestyles without shoulder pain.

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