Calcific tendinitis of the shoulder is a condition in which calcification develops in one of the tendons of the rotator cuff. Typically there is no injury or obvious cause for the development of the calcification in the tendon, and the onset can be sudden. The calcification can lead to inflammation in the affected tendon as well as the bursa which lies over the rotator cuff tendons, and cause significant pain.

Some patients with calcific tendinitis have no symptoms, while others develop sudden onset of severe shoulder pain that often begins for no apparent reason. The pain may be worse with certain movements, and can be more severe at night.
Calcific tendinitis is usually diagnosed by a combination of the patient’s history, the findings on physical examination, and x-rays. Early on, the calcific deposits may not be visible on plain x-rays.
The treatment of calcific tendinitis is usually non-operative. Typically a conservative treatment approach including anti-inflammatory medications, and rest alone is sufficient, with symptoms improving within 2-3 weeks. Physical therapy, and a steroid injection into the calcific deposit and overlying inflamed bursa can sometimes be helpful. The steroid injection can be performed with ultrasound guidance, and the needle used to break up some of the calcium deposits.

If the conservative approach fails, surgery may be considered. During surgery, the calcified deposit and inflamed bursa are carefully excised. If the void left in the rotator cuff tendon by removing the calcified deposit is large, a rotator cuff repair may also be required at the time of surgery.

At Oceana Sports Medicine and Orthopaedic Center, Dr Aboka performs minimally invasive, all-arthroscopic treatment for calcific tendinitis through keyhole incisions. This cutting-edge technique allows for thorough inspection of the shoulder joint, and facilitates identification and treatment of other painful conditions that may be present, ensuring return to good shoulder function. This procedure is outpatient/same-day surgery, and leads to less pain and scarring and quicker recovery.