How Can We Treat Calcific Tendonitis?

Greenwich Sports Medicine

What is Calcific Tendonitis?

Calcific tendonitis is a common condition that predominantly affects individuals aged between 40 and 60 years. Women canbe more affected by this than men. Clinically, calcific tendinitis is characterized by severe, disabling pain which occurs spontaneously. This usually occurs in the morning. Frequently it occurs in the shoulder and it involves the supraspinatus and infraspinatus tendon. There can be concomitant stiffness, giving rise to a frozen shoulder.  

Tendons calcify due to a number of factors both mechanical and metabolic. Mechanically, if the tendon is constantly rubbing against a bone in the subacromial space, especially with bone spurs in the acromioclavicular joint, the tendon can calcify. It is the constant irritation and repair in the multiphasic response of the immune system that can cause the tendon to calcify. This is similar to a callus forming on your hand from too much yard work.

Other factors play a role in this condition. Abnormal activity of the thyroid gland, metabolic diseases (e.g. diabetes), and genetic predisposition. Still experiencing chronic pain even after several months of conservative treatment? An attempt on arthroscopic removal of the tendon is then recommended. Recently, extracorporeal shockwave therapy has shown encouraging results in treating calcific deposits.

What is Shockwave (ESWT) Therapy?

ESWT is based on the use of single pressure pulses, otherwise known as shock-waves. It uses the same shockwaves that Lithotripsy machines use to break up kidney stones. Calcification finds its focus from ultrasounds or any radiographic guidance. One study by Cosentino et al. (30) showed that ESWT led to decreased pain and increased shoulder function. In 31% of their cases, complete resorption of the calcification isreported. Cacchio’s et al. (31) study reported complete resorption of calcifications in 86.6% of their treated patients and partial resorption in 13.4%. Therefore the success of resorption of the calcification can range from 31-86 percent according to current data. 

If you have been suffering from a calcific tendon and would like to avoid surgery consider extracorporeal shockwave therapy by one of the therapists at Greenwich Sports Medicine!