calcific tendonitis

Why is calcific tendonitis so painful?

Like the majority of shoulder-related injuries and conditions, one of the main symptoms of calcific tendonitis is severe pain. Occurring when calcium builds up around the muscle or tendon, the condition can be excruciating to deal with.

Now, new research has potentially highlighted the cause of pain in calcific tendonitis. The researchers are hopeful the results of the study could lead to the development of new ways to treat the pain caused by the condition.

What is calcific tendonitis?

Calcific tendonitis is a painful condition that occurs when calcium deposits build up around the tendon. As they accumulate, the tissues located around the deposits can start to become inflamed. This is what then causes the severe pain associated with the condition.

Previously, the exact cause of calcific tendonitis is unknown, although it isn’t thought to be linked to osteoporosis, diet or injury. As the calcium deposits build up, they also cause pressure which decreases the space between the rotator cuff and the acromion. This then leads to impingement.

There are actually two different types of calcium tendonitis, referred to as reactive calcification and degenerative calcification. The condition mostly affects patients over the age of 40. While it can occur in several parts of the body, it most commonly presents within the shoulder.

What did the research reveal?

The recent study, published within the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, has potentially identified the cause of the pain experienced by those with the condition. Patients who experience calcific tendonitis have been discovered to have an increase in pain receptor and blood vessel growth.

The fact more blood vessels have been found in patients with the condition, suggests this could be a leading cause of the pain. A total of 30 patients underwent an ultrasound during their arthroscopic surgery. The images captured showed that compared to patients who had simple rotator cuff tears without signs of calcification, there was increased nerve growth and increased blood vessel growth.

Those who were found to suffer from calcific tendonitis, found it difficult to sleep because of the pain. The findings of this study were similar to those which were carried out on patients with frozen shoulder.

What treatment options are available?

Patients who are suffering from calcific tendonitis, are usually treated with a combination of physical therapy and medication. Anti-inflammatory drugs can help to reduce the swelling and therefore decrease some of the pain. Corticosteroid injections can also be provided to reduce swelling and pain.

If medication and physical therapy don’t work, there are other treatment options available. These include several types of shockwave therapy, therapeutic ultrasound and surgery. It’s important that patients understand their options, along with the risks and complications of each procedure before deciding whether or not to undergo the treatment.

Patients who suspect they may be suffering from calcific tendonitis should book a consultation with a shoulder specialist. The specialist will be able to diagnose the issue and address its severity before deciding upon the appropriate course of treatment. While the condition can be extremely painful, there are treatments available to reduce the pain until the deposits can be eliminated.

If you’re concerned you’re suffering from this shoulder condition, call 0203 195 2442 to arrange your appointment with the London Shoulder Specialists.