Calcific tendonitis is a condition in which calcium builds up within the rotator cuff tendon(s), causing pain. The cause of calcific tendonitis is unknown, and it is more common in middle-aged and older patients.
- Sharp, intermittent shoulder pain with overhead activity
- Pain when sleeping on the affected shoulder
Diagnosis And Treatment
Dr. Welch considers each patient’s symptoms, as well as a detailed physical examination and x-rays to make the diagnosis of calcific tendonitis. Dr. Welch may order an MRI or an ultrasound to evaluate the extent of the calcification further and to assess the integrity of the rotator cuff tendons. Most patients with calcific tendonitis can be treated successfully without surgery. Non-surgical management may include a dedicated physical therapy program and a course of anti-inflammatory medication.
Another option is “needling” of the calcium deposit. Dr. Welch or one of his colleagues performs this technique in the office. Using ultrasound guidance, a needle is directed into the calcium deposit and the deposit is broken into many pieces. The calcium slurry can then be sucked out of the shoulder using ultrasound guidance through a tiny pinhole.
In those patients who fail non-surgical management, including the “needling” technique, Dr. Welch may recommend surgical treatment. During surgery, Dr. Welch uses a minimally invasive, arthroscopic approach to remove the calcium deposit. In some patients, the rotator cuff tendon(s) is very damaged or torn due to the calcium buildup, and Dr. Welch may repair the rotator cuff in this situation.