Causes and Symptoms of Calcified Tendonitis

Despite this condition’s name, calcified tendonitis is rarely caused by excessive calcium in-take. Most blood tests reveal that the far majority of people diagnosed with this form of tendonitis are not found to have abnormally high levels of calcium in their blood. The best way to diagnose calcified tendonitis is through x-rays, which make it easier to detect excess calcium deposits on the body’s tendons. It is most common for this form of tendonitis to be detected in the shoulders, rather than in other parts of the body. Often patients will find that both shoulders are affected by the condition.

Types of Calcified Tendonitis

Doctors make a distinction between two types of calcified tendonitis, namely degenerative and reactive calcification. Degenerative calcification occurs due to the normal aging process and as a result of regular use. This form of tendonitis will often develop and worsen over an extended period of time. It results from a decrease in blood flow to the shoulder’s rotator cuff, the area where the muscles are connected by several tendons to the largest bone in the upper arm.

Less is known about the exact causes of reactive calcification, but scientists believe it is related to degenerative changes in the structure of tendons that lead to the formation of calcium deposits. Interestingly, this type of calcified tendonitis will cause pain, but usually also heal by itself over time. The calcium deposits are absorbed by the body and new tissue is naturally formed in order to heal the affected tendon.

Who is Most at Risk?

Calcified tendonitis usually affects older people and is very uncommon among those under 30 years of age. Reactive calcification has, however, been diagnosed in younger patients. Degenerative calcification is usually caused by overuse and excessive pressure on the shoulders and is most likely to occur in people over 40 years old. The most common symptoms of this disease include an aching pain and general stiffness in the shoulders, which leads to a decrease in the shoulder’s ability to rotate and move.

Calcified tendonitis Treatment Options

In addition to anti-inflammatory drugs, the most effective way to the treat the pain caused by calcified tendonitis is to apply cortisone injections to the area. A procedure called “lavage” is also sometimes used to treat this condition. Lavage, which means “to clean” in French, involves the insertion of two needles into the shoulders, filled with saltwater, in order to remove the calcium deposits. If the pain remains unbearable, doctors may recommend that the patient undergo minor surgery to rectify the problem.

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