Calcific Tendinitis: What to Consider When Diagnosing

By Tom Nicholson

A painful condition of the rotator cuffs and shoulders, calcific tendinitis is the result of calcium buildup under the shoulder blade in the tendons of the shoulder and around the rotator cuffs.

While no solid cause for calcific tendinitis has been pinned down, blood levels of calcium indicate that it's not excess calcium in the diet. If you've been diagnosed with the condition, don't cut back on your calcium intake; it will just cause your body to scavenge the calcium from your bones to make up the lack (calcium is an important metabolic nutrient, not just what makes up your bones.)

Some have speculated that calcific tendinitis may be caused by a metabolic condition, or that those with kidney problems may be at greater risk of developing these types of calcium deposits. However, again, this is only a guess and not a definite diagnosed cause. It's also known that overuse of the rotator cuff or injury does not cause calcific tendinitis, either. You CAN develop rotator cuff tendinitis with overuse, which is tendinitis that occurs without calcium deposits in addition.

Those above the age of 30 are generally seen to be at greater risk of developing calcific tendinitis, since the condition is rarely seen in those under the age of 30.

What are the symptoms of calcific tendinitis?

Calcified tendinitis is typically symptom free; the calcium nodule builds up under the rotator cuff, and it isn't until it sheds crystals that any pain occurs. If the calcium deposit grows deeply enough, it won't be felt as a lump or anything, though it may cause shoulder impingement syndrome if you raise your arm over your head.

Oftentimes, what happens is that the calcium crystals in the deposits begin to shed off and cause the tendons to inflame. This is often the first symptom of calcific tendinitis, as many people aren't even aware they have until they experience this. Surprisingly, this is also when things may begin to "turn around" for the condition, because this is when the body may reabsorb those calcium deposits.

The onset of symptoms can be sudden, and the recommendation is that you stretch and maintain your full range of motion.

If the pain is very bad, it may be worth it to go to a general practitioner; an x-ray will show the calcium deposit clearly. In addition to aspirin, there's often recommendations to ice the shoulder, and to do range of motion exercises.

In some rare cases, your doctor may decide that it's necessary to go invasive, and use a hypodermic needle and syringe to break up the calcium lump and remove the pieces. In extreme cases, this may take an arthroscopic surgical procedure to do completely and remove all traces of it from the trauma site. - 30540

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