Calcific Tendinits of the Shoulder (Reactive Calcification)

Calcific tendinitis of the shoulder, also known as reactive calcification, is a painful condition that occurs when tendons in the rotator cuff develop calcium deposits and become inflamed. This condition impacts people of all ages, but it is most common in young people.


It is still unknown what causes calcific tendinitis of the shoulder, but it usually progresses over time. When the process begins, most people do not know crystals are forming in the shoulder because there is no pain. As the calcification process begins, the deposits break down and absorb in the body, causing pain.


As reactive calcification progresses, pain levels may range from moderate to severe, especially when lifting the arm. Stiffness, restricted movement, swelling, and disruptive pain at night are also common symptoms of calcific tendinitis of the shoulder.


In order to diagnose calcific tendinitis of the shoulder, physicians will ask about symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will also allow the physician to assess pain and range of motion. Imaging tests such as x-rays may be used to detect calcification issues.


Anti-inflammatory medications, corticosteroid injections, and physical therapy are all effective ways to treat reactive calcification. In many cases, treatment is not necessary because symptoms will improve on their own. In severe cases where symptoms do not improve with conservative treatments, surgery to remove the deposits man be an option.

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