Calcium deposits and tendinitis (calcific tendinitis)

Calcium may build up in the tendons of the shoulder at sites of inflammation and where blood supply is decreased. Tissue tears and natural tissue breakdown (degenerative changes) increase the chance of these deposits. Women are more likely to have calcific tendinitis than men.

Symptoms may include:

  • Shoulder pain and stiffness that often recurs but usually lasts only 1 to 2 weeks.
  • Occasional locking of the shoulder.
  • Pain that is often worse at night and may interfere with sleep.

Treatment includes rest, ice, medications to reduce pain and swelling, gentle range-of-motion exercises, and occasionally cortisone injections.

If the calcium deposits are large, affect movement, or are persistently painful, they can be treated surgically (debridement).

Last Updated: September 19, 2009

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